MSHP: Opioid, heroin trafficking up in southeast MO

MSHP: Opioid, heroin traffic up in southeast MO
Published: Sep. 19, 2016 at 9:34 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2016 at 11:05 PM CDT
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SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - Drug statistics from the Missouri State Highway Patrol show a spike in opioid and heroin traffic in the Heartland.

SEMO Drug Task Force coordinator Sgt. Mark McClendon said the amount of drugs officers see on the streets is on the rise.

"The numbers are steadily increasing year after year after year," McClendon said.

According to MSHP data, officers confiscated 645 pills during the months of January through June of 2015. In that same time frame in 2016, officers recovered nearly 3,100 prescription opioids.

Likewise in the first of 2015, drug reduction efforts yielded two grams of heroin in southeast Missouri. While in the first half of 2016, officers have already nabbed 45 grams of heroin off the streets.

Overdoses, however, remain low.

"I don't think we're at the epidemic level yet," McClendon said. "It's not like the northeast. You're seeing overdose deaths left and right. We're not there yet."

On Sunday, September 18, President Obama issued a call for action from Congress to combat opioid and heroin abuse nationwide. He also declared this week "Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week."

He said the link between prescription opioids, like pain killers, and heroin can be a direct one.

"Somebody will maybe start on prescription pills but if access to those opioids dry up or becomes more expense, if heroin's available it may be a little cheaper."

McClendon said raising awareness of the issue is a start.

"You have to be aware of a problem before you can address it. So, yeah, I think the awareness is good."

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