BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The number of arrests related to heroin has more than tripled in Ascension Parish. Sheriff Jeff Wiley said his parish is seeing what has become a growing problem across the country. He said drug task force detectives are on the case.
A drug deal in the parking lot of an Ascension Parish business is the most recent in a string of arrests involving alleged heroin users.
Irvin Mitchell, 32, was charged with distributing the drug.
Sheriff Wiley said heroin has once again become a hot commodity.
"We've got her hands full with it. We're adding more people. Obviously the arrests are exploding," Wiley said.
According to the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, narcotics officers arrested one person for heroin in 2011, the same in 2012. But in 2013, 46 people were arrested in connection with the drug. Wiley said detectives have made 22 heroin arrests this year.
Wiley, like other law enforcement leaders, said heroin cases are now outnumbering meth and prescription drug investigations. He said pill popping has become an expensive habit.
"If I go buy a gram of heroin for $120, I'm told that's good for 4, 5, 6 shots. You go buy a pill of oxy, which is more, that might be $100 and that's one dosage."
Often times heroin users do not know what they are putting in their bodies. Doctors said it is usually a cocktail of several chemicals mixed to achieve a cheaper high.
"The whole thing is that it is a very, very dangerous killer."
The Ascension Parish Coroner's Office reports, there were 14 drug overdoses last year, five of them involved heroin. So far this year one drug death, currently being investigated, could involve the drug.
Wiley said drug detectives are actively tracking known dealers. He is working with the district attorney's office to make sure those who are found guilty are put away.
"I'm not sure where it's going but I would suggest that the jail that I run and the jails of other law enforcement leaders in the area will be full of people sentenced for the relatively new phenomenon."
Possession of heroin typically carries a four year prison sentence with little to no possibility of parole.