Middle Tennessee has seen a jump in street heroin over the past year, The Tennessean reports. Police have been making bigger heroin busts over the past three years than in the past decade as a fresh influx of cheap, widely available heroin hits the streets. Mexican drug cartels have pumped out more than 400 percent more heroin than just six years ago, and one of the main trafficking routes runs straight through Nashville, says the U.S. Department of Justice.
Dickson County detectives made the biggest heroin bust in county history in June, seizing $90,000 worth of black tar found hidden in a potato chip bag in a car. In September, police nabbed three alleged drug mules carrying more than $50,000 worth of heroin from Ohio to be distributed in and around Nashville. Said Sgt. Buddy Rhett, in Metro police’s narcotics unit. “When I first started drug work [10 years ago], you didn’t really see heroin. It’s been increasing over the last three years.” Some treatment centers are seeing more patients with heroin addictions. “People are snorting it and injecting it, adolescents all the way to people into their 30s,” said Chuck Rapp of the Cumberland Heights drug treatment center. Part of the renewed appeal of heroin is directly tied to illegal prescription drug abuse. Prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin have surpassed abuse of some illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin. When people addicted to prescription drugs “start building their tolerance, they need something stronger, and heroin is their preferred stronger drug,” said Kristin Helm of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. “Heroin is also cheaper than prescription drugs.”