Agents describe steady increase of heroin use in the Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The overdose death of award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has shone a light back on to the heroin problem across the country and right here at home.

Heroin use throughout the Grand Strand has recently been putting alleged drug dealers back behind bars. All the arrests at J. Reuben Long Detention Center so far for 2014 involving the drug has been for trafficking charges. There were at least a total of 10 arrests at last check.

The biggest arrest involved at least six people who were arrested and charged with trafficking heroin back on January 24th.

Deputy Solicitor at the Solicitors Office for the 15th District, Scott Hixson, explained why we aren't just seeing simple possession arrests when it comes to the drug because under cover agents could be going after the bigger players when it comes to eradicating drugs out of the area.

According to Hixson there has been a consistent increase of heroin use the last 10 years, but cocaine and marijuana are still the top two drugs of choice throughout the Grand Strand.

There were at least 40 arrests for cocaine and 36 arrests for marijuana charges so far for the year at J. Reuben Long Detention Center ranging from simple possession charges to trafficking.

Hixson said drug usage tends to go in a cycle in the area, for example three years ago he said there was a spike in Ecstasy, but now there are only two arrest for the drug in the county jail in the last month.

Investigators are seeing a more powerful form of heroin circulating, its being laced with Fentanyl a painkiller. There is no exact numbers into how much is going around of the laced drug.

According to Hixson it's 40 percent more powerful than regular heroin, and 80 percent stronger than morphine. "As you can imagine that can lead to substantial problems and maybe folks losing their lives for it."

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All rights reserved.