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.