Columbia Police started seeing an increase in the number of heroin-related arrests and overdoses beginning about six months ago. Heroin is now the number-one drug the department investigates. Last night police held a town-hall meeting to inform residents about the growing threat.
South of the Rio Grande, heroin production in Mexico has increased. That's likely what is boosting the availability of the drug here in Missouri. Jeff Ruckstad is a detective of Narcotics and Organized Crime with the Columbia Police Department.
"You know, I've been in narcotics for 7 years now. 7 years ago I never heard anything about heroin. About a year and a half ago we started hearing things, and now it's flooding us."
Ruckstad said there is no one profile of a heroin addict; he's seen the drug in all age and socioeconomic groups. The department does know most of the heroin in Columbia comes right down I-70, from St. Louis, the "heroin hub of the Midwest." Since 2010, there have been four heroin-related deaths in Columbia, but Ruckstad says police did not closely keep track of the statistics in the past.
The Columbia town-hall meeting follows a similar event in Jefferson City, which has also seen recent increases in heroin arrests and over-doses.