Officials: Heroin showing up in E.KY

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Heroin is not a new drug, but it has been showing up more in eastern Kentucky.

It has been found during recent busts in Knox County and Ashland and Operation UNITE officials have seen it too.
Some believe it is only a matter of time before it becomes a much bigger problem.

The war on drugs is a battle police said they are trying their best to win, but police said something new in eastern Kentucky could make the fight even tougher.

Detective Steve Owens of the Barbourville Police Department said he was not surprised to learn of heroin being found in Knox County.

“We do know that it has been here for at least a year that has been verified. Outside of that we don't know what kind of timeframe we are looking at,” said Owens.

After other busts in the region, Owens said he believes it is a matter of time.

“It is something that inevitably is coming and of course we are not looking forward to it,” said Owens.

Law enforcement said they are fearful of the affects that heroin could bring to the communities.

“It creates a lot of unique circumstances that are not necessarily there for other drugs,” said Owens.

Because abusers have to keep upping their doses and using more frequently to avoid serious withdrawals, he said that there could be a ripple affect when people aim to feed their habits.

“It is going to create an increase in crime without a doubt,” said Owens.

Police said that means innocent people will be affected.

“What it leads to is a destruction of the finances, the family, the lives of all of the people who are exposed to it,” said Owens.

Those who focus their efforts on fighting the war on drugs said heroin is becoming a bigger concern.

“Last month for the first time in over a year we did see heroin and we saw it in four eastern Kentucky counties,” said Dan Smoot of Operation UNITE.
“It is my professional opinion that as pills become harder to get, and as the new laws go into affect and we squeeze down on pill mills it is quite possible that heroin will be the new drug of choice for many.”

Smoot said because other drugs are becoming harder to find, it could be an alternative high for users.

“It is more affordable and it is more abundant and it will probably be easier to obtain,” said Smoot.

Law enforcement officials said the most frightening thing about the drug is the psychological and physical addiction unique to heroin. They said they plan on doing whatever they can to keep the drug off the streets and they will prosecute users, dealers and traffickers to the fullest extent of the law.