In one year alone, the number of defendants who claim heroin as their "drug of choice" in Shelby County's Drug Court have more than doubled. We have the papers that show the numbers. Today, nearly one in five defendants there are admitted abusers of this dangerous narcotic. Compare that to only eight percent in all of 2011.
Where can you get it? Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich says the scary part is it's showing up in our schools. "We are getting reports of its availability in high school and the ease of access. Everybody needs to be aware it's out there and your child is not immune. I don't care what part of town you live in or what school you go to."
Young people, including teens from middle and upper class families, are the main users now.
Everyone I talked with, from the DEA to an addict, tells me that it starts when the kids get hooked on prescription drugs. They turn to heroin when they can't get their hands on prescription drugs. For Weirich and other mid-south drug agents, the unprecedented rise in heroin deaths means war. "Rest assured, under law in the State of Tennessee, it's a very serious felony either Class A or Class B. If you give it to someone who dies as a result, we're gonna prosecute you under murder, 2nd degree with no parole."
Weirich says they've already sent one supplier to prison for twenty years.