Heroin is nothing new, but its massive spike in use over the past couple years is. Numbers released to FOX 35 by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show a spike in heroin overdose cases statewide, and in Lake County, law enforcement is just now seeing the same.
Sgt. Jim Vachon with the Lake County Sheriff's Office says, "We have seen an increase just like nationwide heroin has seen a rise over past few months, so right now it's our top priority."
According to Lt. Tom Willis with a Special Investigative Task Force at the Sheriff's Office, heroin in the county is regionally contained. What that means is that they are finding it in two cities: Clermont and Eustis. Their goal is to keep it contained, then to get rid of it."
The FDLE tracks heroin deaths by Medical Examiner Districts throughout the state. Numbers show in 2014, Leesburg had more heroin-related deaths than half the other districts. In 2015, there was a slight dip for Leesburg, but though formal numbers were not available at the time this report was published, law enforcement tells me there has been a steep increase.
Sgt. Vachon says, "It comes down to an economic thing. For years, methamphetamine and pills became cheaper and more accessible. Those days are going away so this sort of drug is becoming more popular."
And making matters worse, fentanyl is on the rise too, along with its even more harmful counterpart, synthetic fentanyl which is 10,000 times more potent then the same amount of morphine, and 100 times more potent then regular fentanyl.
Sgt. Vachon warns, "Don't touch it. It can get through your skin and it can kill you."
Which is why law enforcement says this is a warning for the general public: If you see a suspicious bag on the ground-don't pick it up-call law enforcement...synthetic fentanyl can leach through your skin!
That's why members of that special task force are soon getting Narcan to protect themselves: Lt. Willis tells me it potentially could be distributed department wide at the Lake County Sheriff's Office eventually.