'Operation Pandora' to combat Lexington heroin abuse

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Calling their effort Operation Pandora, Lexington Police have shifted personnel to focus on the rapidly growing problem of heroin.

In a midday news conference, police touted the effort saying they've already arrested more people since March than the previous two years.

City and law enforcement officials say over the past two years heroin use has exploded in Lexington. Since March, police have made 77 heroin arrests, totaling nearly nearly 1,200 grams.

"Make no mistake about it. If you're a dealer and you're preying on citizens of Lexington and selling heroin, we're not done and we're coming for you," said Lt. Scott Blakely with the Lexington Division of Police.

But to officials the most eye-popping number is the percentage of heroin related overdoses. In 2011 and 2012, there were 27 deaths due to heroin overdoses. In just the first six months of 2013, there were 28.

Police say that rise is due in part to the fact that new laws have made prescription pills and meth more difficult to get. They say heroin has become a cheaper and easier drug.

"There truly is a huge impact on life when it comes to heroin abuse," said Medical Director Ryan Stanton with the Lexington Fire Department.

They say they've reassigned officers to focus on heroin and its yielded big results

"We had another big bust last night," said Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. "But this illustrates why this task force was formed and why we have success with it."

After that bust last night, police had to revise their total number of arrests from 67 to 77 and the amount of heroin seized from 867 to nearly 1,200.

Lexington Police say they've formed partnerships with the court system, healthcare providers, and rehab facilities to try to stem the problem.

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