DEA: Jackson becoming hub for heroin distribution - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

DEA: Jackson becoming hub for heroin distribution

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Federal agents say the heroin market is alive and well in the U.S.; a pipeline of sorts that goes from Mexico through major cities and across Mississippi interstates.

"Everybody's always said, 'Why are you worried about dope that's not even going to Pearl or Jackson or the Jackson Metro area?' We're worried about it because, number one, it could filter back down here," Pearl Police Chief Ben Schuler said.

That's why Pearl police stopped a woman from Texas on Interstate 20 on Monday, finding 20 pounds of pure white heroin in her vehicle.

It's the third such stop this year in Mississippi.

Back in April, law enforcement seized nearly 12 pounds from a couple on Interstate 59 in Lamar County.

Assistant Special Agent in Charge Floyd Baker with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Jackson said this summer, Gulf Coast authorities confiscated 15 pounds of heroin.

"We are definitely seeing an increase," Baker said. 

In the past, Baker said they'd see 4 to 6 pounds at a time, but now that number is rising.

"It lets me know that the DTO's, the drug trafficking organizations that are trafficking in heroin, are a little more confident in their ability to get that across the United States, and Mississippi is one of their trafficking routes that we have to deal with."

It goes much further than that, Baker adds. Not only is the trafficking increasing, heroin use among those who live in the Metro and Mississippi is also rising.

Right now, the vast majority of heroin in Mississippi comes from Memphis or New Orleans, but Baker said soon Jackson will also be a hub of sorts for this kind of distribution.

"We believe, based on the availability of heroin here, that we are becoming more of a market, said Baker. "We have several cases where we are able to buy ounces of heroin, which is very difficult. Normally, you buy ounces of heroin in a bigger city, but now we're finding in Jackson and our surrounding counties, we're able to go out and buy ounces of heroin," Baker said. "It may be a little slower than in some of the bigger cities, but there's definitely a market here."

Baker said part of the reason for the increased demand is because other prescription drugs like hydrocodone are much more difficult to obtain than they've been in years past.

That means for many, heroin is a cheaper alternative.

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