Heroin: The Inside Dope - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Heroin: The Inside Dope

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 (04/24/14) - It's an everywhere, every place kind of drug.

And often deadly.

Now there's a new concern for those fighting to get heroin off the streets - a more potent hit containing fentanyl.

In just four days, leading into the first two of February, there were four deaths in Flint that just seemed too similar to police.

Investigators believe heroin was involved in each instance and they fear the worst - a potent, dangerous mixture containing fentanyl. Fentanyl is a narcotic typically prescribed for people with chronic pain.

Flint Police were so concerned, they alerted the public as officers waited for confirmation from toxicology tests. They're still waiting.

Michigan State Police know the powerful pain reliever is present in drugs officers have recovered from offenders. They've seen it in recent months and call it a unique situation.

The Bridgeport Crime Lab covers about a dozen counties in the thumb and eastern, lower Michigan area - Saginaw and Genesee included.

"We typically do have a pretty good feel for what's going on in this district," says State Police First Lieutenant, and Lab Director, Ryan Larrison.

He says they had a rash with the bath salts, but legislation was signed banning the designer drug.

Larrison says analysts started seeing a decrease in those cases, "And at the same time it nosedived, we saw a pretty swift uptick in heroin. I don't know if it's related or not, but we have seen it."

The drug cut with potent fentanyl poses a serious risk.

"Your risk for overdose goes, it just sky rockets, for lack of better terms," says State Police Detective First Lieutenant Pat Richard, Flint Area Narcotics Group, or FANG, Section Commander.

He confirmed, back in February, fentanyl-laced heroin was found in Genesee County.

His officers seized a large amount - hundreds of hits.

Three, separate samples - of drugs tied to cases in Flint, Lapeer and Sanilac Counties - tested purely positive for fentanyl.

There is some good news - Richard says there haven't been any new cases of the toxic combo.

But heroin, in general, shows no sign of slowing.

Richard says his officers have doubled seizure amounts for the first quarter of this year compared to last.

"You have to keep going after the bigger dealers," he says. "We need to cut the supply off is what we need to do."

Heroin related deaths jumped drastically.

The Michigan Department of Community Health shows they more than doubled in Genesee County in 2010-2012 compared to the previous three year period.

"We're losing a lot of good people, good people," says Sam Jawhari. His 17-year-old daughter Briona overdosed in 2011.

"We need to make our people more aware of what's going on."

Jawhari is still sharing his story through Chasing the Dragon presentations at area schools.

"Three years and we're going strong," he says. "Over 36,000 kids. I know we're making a difference. I tell these kids I can't bring my child back, but I'm hoping I can spare your parents from the pain I go through everyday."

As for him, he's healing and says he recently found peace.

"She (Briona) came to me in my dream. She told me, 'Daddy I'm OK. Just keep doing what you're doing.'"

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