Rolla police say there is an especially dangerous batch of heroin circulating in the city.
They believe this batch is behind at least one death and six overdoses.
Police say the town has around 200 overdoses a year from heroin and the problem has gotten worse in the past six years.
Authorities say that’s the period in which they noticed the city’s “drug of choice” changing from meth to heroin.
They say they’re not completely sure why the switch happened- they’re doing everything they can to get the drug off the street.
Rolla police say heroin kills about 12 people in the city every year and getting to the root of the problem is vital.
Investigators say they have found a connection between Chicago and St. Louis drug rings and Rolla.
“We have the drug thugs, I’ll call them for lack of a better term, coming from Chicago and St. Louis. They moved down here through housing projects, and they can come into this area and there are people that they want to follow,” said Police Chief Mark Kearse.
Kearse says he believes heroin addicts usually start with the abuse of prescription drugs and go from there.
“It starts from the pill epidemic that’s occurred over the years. People get prescription pills and people doctor shop. Addicts get the pills, they then sell the pills, they crush them and inject them. When they’ve done something to the pills and are unable to get them, heroin is as cheap in price as it’s ever been,” he said.
Kearse says he believes the deadly heroin batch was made sometime last week.
“We’re afraid there was a batch that was maybe more potent and that went out on the streets. That maybe caused just a lot more overdoses and possibly a death,” said Kearse.
Kearse says he believes the batch could still be circulating and asks the public to be aware.
Rolla resident Akim Adekpedjou said he couldn’t believe the town he calls home could have this much drug activity.
“It’s really shocking to know that in this small town of 20,000 people, heroin is around and all of that,” he said.
Rolla police have five full-time officers in the department’s narcotics unit working to get a handle on the heroin scourge.
They say they also participate in school and community anti-drug campaigns to create awareness of the dangers of drugs.
Rolla police also blame about 70 percent of the crime in the area on drugs.