SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Is Savannah a new hub city for heroin distribution?
Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team agents seized a record amount of heroin and arrested a man they believe is a major supplier to the area.
Terrence Scott is currently in the Chatham County Detention Center facing multiple felony charges including drug trafficking. Drug investigators say Scott may have been a driving force behind the heroin drug operation in the area.
"Essentially, heroin was being bought in bulk," said Gene Harley, CNT.
The Savannah native now lives in the Metro Atlanta area - a known heroin hub - but he was recently arrested in the Savannah area during a traffic stop and that's when they realized he may be part of a much larger operation.
"It's not like this was just going to one or two people to sell, this was going to a group of individuals who had been profiting," said Harley.
Investigators say it is likely Scott was selling to other local drug dealers who then sell it to customers on the streets. And while investigators are glad to have intercepted this much heroin before it made it on the streets, they fear this is just a snapshot of how many addicts there are in our community.
"The sad part of this reality is, that means there is that much demand for this product here in Chatham County," said Harley.
There's been a surge of heroin users nationwide over the last couple of years after pill mills were shut down, and investigators say since then, the clientele for this drug have changed dramatically.
"These addicts are now going to the base of it - in this case heroin - and now we are finding most of our arrests involving not only users but also dealers are anywhere from teenage up to 40-, 50-year-old mostly white male and female," said Harley.
New research indicates that four out five new heroin users say they became addicted to prescription pills before they used heroin for the first time.
Investigators say since the pill mills were shut down, those who can't get their opiate-based pills as easily are now turning to the streets, which means a new class of people are desperate for their drugs, including hard working people in the upper middle class. The signs are very difficult to detect. It could be your coworker, and you'd never know.
"As long as they have their fix, they can otherwise be a fully functional person where they can't be as a crack-cocaine addict, and that's the other thing too that's very concerning too, is that in some cases, we're are finding professionals who are heroin addicts. You wouldn't know any better unless we catch them in possession of the heroin," said Gene Harley, CNT.
Just to give you an idea, in 2014 they arrested 20. In 2015, 27 and so far this year they've arrested five, all relating to heroin.