Six people were arrested in Union County, Georgia on February 4th in a prescription drug operation. DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) agents along with local law enforcement arrested the CEO of Union General Hospital, Mike Gower, along with five others, two of whom doctors. The sting lasted 9 months and was a result of allegations of fraudulent painkiller prescriptions.
Police accredited Dr. James Heaton with writing more than 15,000 fraudulent prescriptions over 3 years.
Task forces established to rid Atlanta and surrounding areas of the heroin threat have discovered that the bulk of heroin was focused on the west side of downtown Atlanta before the epidemic. Now because of the sourcing of the Mexican Cartels the dangerous opiate has spread quickly throughout all areas of the Metropolitan area including its suburbs. Forty-six Georgia Department of Corrections officers were arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after allegations of drug smuggling through the prison system. The correctional officers were accused of taking bribes from the Cartels in exchange for circulating their drugs the facilities.
Drug and alcohol addiction has swept the nation in decades passed, and the trend has not stopped. Every city and town across the United States has felt the terrifying effects of addiction. It was reported by the National Institute of Health that approximately 23.2 million people feel the negative impact that substance abuse carries. Metropolitan areas are more susceptible to such damage.
Atlanta, Georgia has steadily been victimized by the inflow of dangerous drugs over the years. There was a boom in the cocaine and crack-cocaine industry in the mid 1980’s and Atlanta was hit with the epidemic shortly thereafter. That particular substance reached its peak in the early 2000’s but stayed steady since the problem began in the city. Though cocaine use in Atlanta has decreased since its peak, another epidemic has disrupted the peace in Atlanta much like it is doing in many cities in America.
It was reported by the United States Department of Justice and key policymakers and experts that there has been an exponential increase in heroin trafficking and abuse in the Atlanta region for the past 5 years.
The Department of Justice also reported that between 2010 and 2013, deaths by heroin overdose have increased 173% on national scale and there are approximately 8,250 deaths every year from heroin overdoses.
There are several reason for this: More people are supplementing heroin for prescription painkillers due to the inherent tolerance that develop as a result of frequent use and the economic viability. Mexican drug cartels have replaced marijuana with opium manufacturing. Heroin has also taken on the forms that allow a user to ingest the drug without intravenous injection.
According to Dr. Gaylord Lopez, Director of the Georgia Poison Center, prescription opioids have maintained epidemic levels of overdose deaths, while deaths from heroin overdoses are growing. It was also reported that fentanyl related deaths have been spiking as well. There were 97 deaths in 2014 from fentanyl use. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid similar to heroin but tends to be more potent that the average heroin obtained on the street. Heroin is still much more popular than fentanyl due to its broader availability.
The increase in heroin abuse can be directly correlated to the increase in over prescribing patients with painkillers.
Another drug sting that lasted 2 years resulted in the arrest of 26 people with connections to Mexican cartels for drug smuggling in Cobb County. The smuggling ring was infiltrated by an undercover agent that provided more than enough information to indict the suspects. “Each time I would call Chucky (David Maldonado Baza, the main target in the operation) or text Chucky and request a certain amount of narcotics, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, Chucky would direct me to an individual who would then give me the narcotics in exchange for currency,” said the undercover agent.
Over the years, heroin has been inconsistent in its potency, with levels of psychoactive agents being so low that the only way to feel the effects is by intravenously injecting it. When the substance spikes in availability, the potency tends to increase as it did in the 1970’s. When the potency increases, more people are prone to using it due to the many methods it can be used such as oral ingestion, smoking, and snorting.