Gallipolis Police Fighting Growing Heroin Problem

GALLIPOLIS, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Heroin has seemingly become a problem throughout the region, Huntington reports one to two overdoses a day.

In Gallipolis overnight, there was an overdose death.

The police chief said the heroin spike in Gallipolis started around 2013.

In just a simple search with the word "heroin" in the department's database, the chief found 94 cases.

But he said it gets more complicated than that because not every case is labeled specifically with "heroin," and he said the problem is growing in Gallipolis, just like many other cities in our region.

The quiet city of Gallipolis is not immune to a growing heroin epidemic.

"They're overdosing, they're passing out, they're dying," Gallipolis Police Chief Clinton Patterson said.

The chief said the drug is becoming popular with those who used to depend on pills for a fix.

He said the switch comes down to cost and convenience.

"Back a year ago, we bought pills for $80 to $100," Patterson said. "Now they're buying heroin for $35, $40 a hit."

With each purchase, comes the chance it could be the last one.

Patterson said heroin is uncontrolled and packs a deadly punch.

The chief estimates there are two to three overdoses a week.

"What they took yesterday may have been fine for them yesterday, but the amount they got today, even though they think they're taking the same amount, may have had a triple dose," he said.

Criminals behind the sale of the dope are also getting caught up in the city's justice system.

In 10 seconds, the chief found 94 cases alone.

"We had a handful of reports in 2010, a handful in 2011, but then it jumps up to 2013 and 2014, and almost all of our reports are from those two years," Patterson said.

He said the numbers are startling, but this is a wake-up call. He said this problem will take every effort in each community to push aside.

"I'm seeing people, just like with the pills, at every level, some way, being involved," Patterson said.

The police chief said dealers have been coming to Gallipolis for 15 to 20 years to develop a network to sell.

He pointed to just a few years back where it would be difficult to find many heroin cases.

He said the Gallia and Meigs County Task Force has also helped arrest several people involved in heroin dealing.

Earlier this week, Gallia Sheriff's officials arrested three men in Green Township and found 62 grams of heroin there alone.

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