WHEELING, W.Va. — First it was meth, and then it was prescriptions pills. Now drug task forces in the northern half of West Virginia are facing a new battle. This time it’s with heroin.

“Heroin is our number one problem,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District Bill Ihlenfeld.

Ihlenfeld’s office is working hand in hand with drug task forces as they see more and more of the deadly drug shipped into the area. Ihlenfeld said the drug originates in Mexico and is shipped north by drug cartels into Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Chicago and then brought into West Virginia.

The opiate is growing in popularity in cities like Wheeling, Weirton and Clarksburg. Ihlenfeld stressed as a drug it’s dangerous but add in the unknown and it’s deadly.

“It is very unpredictable in that we don’t know what it’s cut with and we don’t know the purity levels. More importantly the users don’t know the purity level,” said Ihlenfeld. “It could be 20 percent pure or it could be 90 percent pure. That’s a big difference.”

Twenty-two people have died from heroin overdoses in Pennsylvania in the past few months. Health officials in western Pennsylvania have issued a tainted heroine warning. They say use is at “epidemic proportions.” Ihlenfeld wants to stop that from happening in his district.

Drug Task Forces are cracking down on users and sellers. Ihlenfeld said they’re taking those cases to court.

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  • Mr.P

    A person that is addicted to heroin made that choice to ruin their life,I say let them all die maybe that will open the eyes of others.

  • Mr.P

    They have been trying to stop marijuana use for 40 yrs without any luck,what makes them think they will stop heroin use,guess what they won't!!

  • Zookr3w

    I know a lot of heroin addicts and 99% of them started w pills and went to dope when they couldnt get their script.
    A few years ago the DEA and Drug Task Force shut down a few doctors who were supplying many of the pain pills to addicts in this region. When that happened, hundreds of addicts lost their legal supplier and no doctor would see you if you were one of his patients. - do you think these people just stopped taking opiates? no, they tried dope - and it made them feel better. and so the out of town dealers jumped on the chance to supply their "medicine." I think these doctors needed shut down but there should have been a plan to help ween these people off the pills this doctor prescribed instead of just letting them fend (or fiend) for themselves..

  • Jason R.

    Here's what law enforcement should do. Everytime they seize a supply of heroin, cut it up with a little bit of cyanide and arsenic and put it back out on the street. Problem solved.

    • Mr.P

      I agree

  • 2XLPatriot

    Heroin tends to make a comeback when the popular drugs get scarce or too expensive. In my last 6 months as a Paramedic before going to Nursing school, I treated more heroin overdoses than I did in all 13 years. Rehab only works for those honestly seeking rehab. there are facilities in WV but they are full and the waiting list is long. We do need more options and facilities but, we also don't need to give the choice of rehab or jail.

    Given the option of jail or pajamas, which one do you think they are going to choose only to be discharged within a month or less and start using again? The coddling of these people and laying blame on their environment, upbringing or a multitude of other excuses is ridiculous. Personal responsibility MUST be employed and demanded at some point.

    Our society is in such a sad state that it will take the next 3 generations to finally get it right. We can only blame ourselves for this mess. Some may consider this cold hearted or callous but, we interfere way too much in natural selection. Public service is a phenominal eye opener to those whose only exposure is the news or community activities. The public is a cesspool of entitlement and we just encourage the turds to jump in and enjoy the water.

  • Max

    Until we, as a culture, stop encouraging the use of intoxicants for recreational use (i.e. alcohol and marijuana) we're going to continue down this path. We now have a president who has encouraged the recreational use of marijuana and panders to the still naive young person with comments like "marijuana is no worse than alcohol." Well what is so great about alcohol...look at the damage it has done to our country. Go ahead now unleash on me...trying to control what people do with their own body. Look at what everyone who has commented wants...they want me to pay for the treatment of these peoples vices...no thanks...it's epidemic and no one encourages abstinence. If they would stay in their basements and use their drugs and alcohol I might agree...but they don't. They come out in public in our neighborhoods and on our highways and cause havoc. Lock them up...cold turkey works best and leaves an impression. Explain to me what sense it makes to sell an intoxicant (alcohol) in a public place (bar) and then expect a person to get home on a public street...duh. It will be the same as we go down the road of legalization. You cannot legalize bad behavior and make it OK, it's still going to be bad behavior.

    • Aaron

      It cost more to jail addicts than to treat them.

  • Jason412

    If you look at the deaths in PA, the majority of them were caused by heroin that was cut with fentanyl, a drug estimated to be something like 50x stronger than heroin. Fentanyl being a drug prescribed by doctor's, and even comes in lollypop form. The problem will only continue to get worse as long as doctor's hand out prescriptions at record rates, especially when some of the drugs kill more heroin addicts than heroin.

  • Fred

    It's difficult to fight drug addiction in W.Va. when the Attorney General's wife has received millions of dollars to protect the interests of one of the biggest pill-pushers, Cardinal Health.

    • ViennaGuy

      Drug addiction was a problem in West Virginia long before Patrick Morrisey became attorney general. Tell us, what did Morissey's predecessor Darrell McGraw do to stop it?

  • Aaron

    What I find interesting is that despite the epidemic rise of addiction in West Virginia, particularly opiate addiction there are no extended stay treatment facilities. To receive extended care, addicts must leave the state and go elsewhere.

    • Fred

      Very true. Putting our addicts into our jail system only guarantees a worse person comes out of jail than went in. The suicide problem in our state's jails is because of our lack of drug treatment facilities.

      • William

        Right on target. WV has never provided any treatment facilities for drug addiction, mental health or any other type of professional rehab. We just bury our heads in the sand and go on with more corrupt business and cronyism.

        • Justin

          People have to want help first. They don't want it. They want to sit around and use drugs....

          • Aaron

            This is true but those who do want help in West Virginia cannot get it here.

            Why do you suppose that is?

  • Jethro

    US controlled poppy fields. Remember we have troops guarding these fields.

    Air America? How do you think all that Heroin gets in?
    "We have discovered the enemy and it is us" Pogo.

  • ViennaGuy

    I'm amazed at, and dismayed by, the comeback that heroin has made. Why people even try this stuff is beyond me.

    • Mr.P

      It's because they are STUPID IDIOTS!!

    • Aaron

      The culprit is opiate based pain pills like OxyContin and Opana which are nothing more than synthetic heroin. Once users are addicted and can no longer afford prescription pills they switch to heroin.

      • Leroy


    • arp

      I agree, totally, totally stupid! And crack cocaine--one-time and you are addicted, your brain rewired to crave it at all costs. And often, it leads to death, after you've sold everything, borrowed from friends and relatives and stolen from strangers in order to feed that vicious addiction.