Horry County Police Department adds Narcotics Death Investigator position to combat opioid epidemic

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 5:50 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:19 PM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - The Horry County Police Department is taking a two-pronged approach to battling drugs-- now working to both deal with and root out the issues they bring.

The department has added a Narcotics Death Investigator to its team. The investigator will help track down drug dealers and bring them to justice, in the hopes of preventing more deadly overdoses.

“The investigations will mostly be an intelligence gathering mission, will focus on identifying individuals and organizations responsible for supplying the drugs determined to have caused the death,” said Captain Mick Kathman from the department’s criminal investigations division.

The department will then take that information to its Narcotics and Vice Unit, which will work to determine a course of action potentially leading to arrests or even federal prosecution.

“He started last month and he currently has ten cases that he’s investigating,” said Kathman.

John Coffin, Executive Director of Shoreline Behavioral Health tells WMBF News the opioid epidemic used to be something folks didn’t talk about, but “anything that saves lives is helpful.”

He welcomes any organization or department trying to tackle the problem.

“If there’s an upside at all to the opioid epidemic is it’s brought the problem of substance use disorders into public consciousness,” said Coffin.

While the Narcotics Death Investigator is partially working undercover, Coffin said the work is much needed, especially because he has started to see dangerous mixes of drugs.

“Someone could be actually overdosing on one of these other drugs, and a Narcan rescue isn’t going to save them,” said Coffin. “So yeah, I mean, reducing the supply of those drugs is also an important piece.”

WMBF News asked a spokesperson from HCPD to speak to the investigator about the position, but because he is working partially undercover, the county declined.