The Challenge To Stay Ahead Of Heroin Dealers

Aug 17, 2015

Two and a half months ago the heroin epidemic got so bad the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department decided to partner with the public. While the problem hasn't gone away, detectives are getting lots of leads and are relentless in their efforts to stop dealers.

Former heroin addict Joe Lucas started abusing alcohol and drugs when he was ten. From marijuana he moved on to prescription drugs, pain killers, and then heroin by the time he was 18. 

Prospect House Counselor Joe Lucas has been sober for eight years and says helping others keeps his mind off his own problems.
Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU

Eventually his life hit rock bottom. Lucas, now a counselor at the drug and alcohol rehab center, Prospect House in Price Hill, says helping others helps him stop thinking about his own problems.

Price Hill and Avondale are two of the places people from the suburbs go to buy heroin, according to Lt. Brad Winall of Regional Enforcement Narcotics Union or RENU. He says it's easy to spot users from Sycamore and Anderson Townships as well as people from Kentucky, Indiana, and Clermont County.

Since the Sheriff's Department's public meetings in May, detectives have arrested about 100 people.

In a single drug bust they recovered seven point four pounds of heroin after a 5-month investigation in Sycamore Township, Elmwood, Cincinnati, and St. Bernard. He says most of the heroin comes to Cincinnati from Chicago.

RENU's Lt. Brad Winall remains hopeful. He says, "I can't get into a lot of new technology and things that we're incorporating. It would jeopardize our investigations, but it's fair to say that we're all trying to get on the cutting edge of technology in order to stay ahead of the advancements made by people that have billions of dollars to spend to try to get their drugs to market."

In the meantime, more people are dying here. Winall says since the beginning of the year 71 people have died as a result of unintended overdoses.