- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 1, 2016

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Local law enforcement officials are working to combat the rise in the number of heroin-related deaths in Memphis and Shelby County.

Fourteen people in the city and county have died from heroin overdoses so far this year, according to The Commercial Appeal (https://bit.ly/1QIZaP5).

Shelby County prosecutor Amy Weirich said the number of heroin-related deaths, which jumped from nine in 2011 to 80 in 2015, is a huge issue.

“We’ve already had 14 deaths this year, and it takes eight to 12 weeks for the medical examiner’s office to finalize reports and data, so the 14 could go up in the next couple of weeks,” Weirich said.

Tennessee statute calls for a second-degree murder charge when a person unlawfully delivers a drug to another person and the drug results in their death.

Weirich said she has prosecuted three or four drug overdose cases, including heroin, since she’s been district attorney.

“We will see more of these type of cases if we can find them,” Weirich said.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Chris Harris said that although it’s sometimes difficult, they’ll continue going after individuals who sell the drug.

“Wherever we try to climb the ladder and get the head of an organization, it is like sticking your finger to plug a hole that is the size of a bowling ball,” Harris said. “But we will continue to fight because people are dying.”


Information from: The Commercial Appeal, https://www.commercialappeal.com

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