Local law enforcement officials are reporting an increase in heroin overdoses in Clermont County this year and are concentrating efforts on preventing the movement of the illegal drug.
“There is an increase in the amount of heroin overdoses,” Douglas Ventre, commander of the Clermont County Narcotics Unit, said. “I don’t know if that is attributed to a higher grade of heroin, a purer form, or people trying to get more and use more.”
Ventre said he has seen heroin use and overdoses across the spectrum, from 17-year-olds to 50-year-olds.
“I’ve encountered people who have used it in front of their kids,” he said. “They buy it, and as soon as they get it, they inject it. People ruin their whole lives for it.”
Ventre said heroin usage and dealing occurs throughout Clermont County.
He said on one hand there are the users who purchase their daily fix from Hamilton County, come back to Clermont County and sell what they have left, and on the other hand, there are people from other counties who bring larger quantities in and sell it to users in the county to make a profit.
“It’s addictive, so once someone tries it, they come back for more,” Ventre said. “It ensures the market.”
Local police units are also dealing with the effects of heroin use in the county.
“We’ve had a problem for the last couple of years,” Union Township Police Chief Terry Zinser said. “We still have a problem.”
Chief Zinser said they have had calls for overdoses and deaths because of overdoses.
Zinser agreed much of the heroin supply is coming from Cincinnati and said it seems like the drug is becoming more popular.
“I believe it to be a cost thing, and of course it is extremely addictive,” Zinser said about its popularity.
Amelia Police Chief David Friend also reported an overdose in his area to village council members at a recent meeting.
“This is the second overdose since I have been here,” Chief Friend said. “And I have only been here a month.”
Chief Friend said one overdose occurred when a user “shot up” in the back of a car. The driver pulled over, and by the time police got there, the user was not breathing. Chief Friend said they were able to reverse the effects with the use of Narcan, an opioid antagonist used for the complete or partial reversal of opioid depression, including respiratory depression.
“With a lot of these guys it seems like they don’t have the drug for a while and then they want the drug so badly they add just a little more, or the drug is just a little too pure,” Chief Friend said. “A lot of times they have no idea what is coming out of the needle.”
Prior to coming to Amelia, Chief Friend worked in Tipp City, Ohio. He said he noticed a big increase in heroin use in the past year there as well.
Chief Friend said they would find the heroin capsules and syringes in vehicles and even found some users shooting up in gas stations because they couldn’t wait to get home.
The Clermont County Narcotics Unit works with local police departments, including Union Township and Amelia, to control the movement of the drug and investigate the sources.
“Heroin by far takes up the majority of our efforts,” Ventre said about the unit. “We’re involved in all aspects of it. We have active investigations going on and are pursuing leads.”
He said they still deal with other drugs that are also popular including marijuana, prescription pills and methamphetamine, but heroin has a devastating effect.
“It is a broad spectrum,” Ventre said about narcotics. “But heroin is what everyone sees, because that is what people are overdosing on.”