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Heroin Use Rising in Rural Areas
Authorities say heroin use is on the rise in our state, with a noticeable spike in rural areas. Thursday, local law enforcement met to discuss and tackle this very issue.
"What we do is we assign agents or police officers to these task forces to concentrate their efforts on this type of trafficking," Jacksonville Police Chief Anthony Grootens said.
The focus is on methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.
“So you're seeing it more in the bigger cities, but it does have a trickle-down effect, such as Jacksonville," Grootens said.
That is where police arrested 36-year-old Michael Smith in January for a pound of crack cocaine and three ounces of heroin.
“That amount of heroin for a community of that size is telling a story," Grootens said. "It's telling a story that there are users in that vicinity that will use heroin."
But why? Police say there are several reasons. For one, addicts used to turn to morphine derivatives like oxycodone to get their fix. But times are changing.
"Now the Mexican cartels, the smuggling groups, are smuggling heroin, Mexican heroin, into the country," Grootens said.
Now, authorities say, there is a market for it. As doctors and police crack down on prescription drug abuse, addicts go straight for the hard stuff.
“I've talked to people that are addicted to prescription drugs and since they--if they can't get their prescription drugs they are going to go and get the heroin," Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp said.
Kettelkamp said addicts and dealers seem to think they are less likely to get caught if they are doing their deed out in the country.
“They better not think that way because we will be on them," Kettelkamp said. "We have three people dedicated full-time in Christian County to investigate the sales of drugs."
And Christian County State's Attorney Mike Havera is right behind him.
“The communication with law enforcement has been tremendous," Havera said. "We've already had county-wide meetings with each agency together."
There are no recent busts, but Kettlekamp says it is only a matter of time.
“I know that it's out there," Kettelkamp said. "I've had people tell me that it's out there."
“Obviously if you play the game and get caught, we're going to punish you to the fullest extent of the law," Havera said.
Another issue is the continued popularity of meth. Authorities say many drug users mix and match, and heroin is a drug of choice to pair with meth.
Police say you can help them crack down on this issue. One way is to look out for a large number of cars coming and going from a particular home in a short period of time.