Heroin use contributed to at least 40 deaths in Shelby County - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Heroin use contributed to at least 40 deaths in Shelby County

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In the first eight months of 2013, 40 fatalities were attributed to a heroin overdose. In the first eight months of 2013, 40 fatalities were attributed to a heroin overdose.
24-year-old Eric Herbers was indicted on a second degree murder charge after his 18-year-old girlfriend overdosed in July. 24-year-old Eric Herbers was indicted on a second degree murder charge after his 18-year-old girlfriend overdosed in July.
SHELBY COUNTY, TN -

(WMC-TV) – Heroin use has not only become more common in Shelby County, it's become more deadly due to a more pure heroin that's made its way into the Mid-South and it's killing unsuspecting users at an alarming rate.

"We're seeing a different type heroin on the street than was on the street before," said Shelby County Sheriff's Lieutenant Mark Dunbar.

Dunbar also says heroin use in Shelby County is getting worse and that "there is a big uptick in overdoses."

In the first eight months of 2013, 40 fatalities were attributed to a heroin overdose and test results are pending on other suspected cases.

Dunbar believes the sudden spike is due to a more potent type of heroin that's made its way to the Mid-South called Asian White.

Lt. Dunbar said, "And the purity rate on that type heroin is about 80 percent."

Dunbar says Asian White is replacing a more common Mexican Brown or black tar heroin that's about 50 percent pure.

"These people are injecting it and they're overdosing on it. It shuts the entire system down," explained Dunbar.

On Thursday, 24-year-old Eric Herbers was indicted on a second degree murder charge after his 18-year-old girlfriend overdosed in July. Investigators say Herbers injected her with heroin to celebrate the one-month anniversary of their first date.

Dunbar said, "It is quite prevalent and it's getting worse."

He says heroin's euphoric effect and its price is attractive to users from every walk of life.

"It's cheaper to get heroin on the street than it is to go and get prescription pills," said Dunbar.

Dunbar says even the dealers don't know the heroin they're selling is so pure. He says most of this stuff is coming from China and Afghanistan.

He says parents need to be vigilant to get their child help if they suspect their children are using, Not only because it's deadly, but also because the rehab success rate is very low. It's a tough habit to break.

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