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Illinois Police Crack Down on Heroin Epidemic
Illinois State Police want to end the heroin problems throughout the state, and Sangamon County officials say this issue is on the rise in our own backyards.
"We've definitely seen a uptick in the use of heroin," Sangamon County Undersheriff Jack Campbell said. "We believe it's tied to the difficulty it is now to get the precursors to make methamphetamine. In other words, the meth users have switched over to heroin."
Campbell said I-55 is a pipeline which helps fuel the heroin trade here. He believes people traveling the highway from Chicago to St. Louis can easily make Springfield a pit stop.
"Here in Springfield, Sangamon County, we are right in the middle of that corridor," he said. "It's a good stopping off point for people if they want to get gas, get food, and maybe try and get rid of some these drugs they're bringing around."
Police officers are not always able to catch the people using heroin. Drug overdoses are rising in Sangamon county. In 2011, 21 people died from opiate overdoses. This year, 24 people died of overdoses. Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards said heroin isn't the only problem she sees.
"I kind of look at heroin abuse--a lot of people start with other opiates and it just depends on what kind of opiate they can get hold of," Edwards said.
Edwards said she has two pending investigations which point to drug overdoses. As a result of what she's seeing, she's not surprised that state troopers are cracking down heroin users and traffickers.
"People in my coroner classes, DEA Agents, etc, speak to the problem," she said. "It's not just Sangamon County. It's a nationwide epidemic with the opiate abuse."