MPD fighting back against heroin epidemic

MPD fighting back against heroin epidemic
Bill Nelson (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Bill Nelson (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - There is a high demand to get high on heroin. Memphis, like many cities, continues to deal with the dangers of heroin, but now there's a new push to get the drug off the streets.

"I was homeless for 25 years, living in back of buildings, back of cars--just having my hand out everywhere I went," Bill Nelson said.

Nelson has been fighting for sobriety for the past four years.

Born with one eye, he lost the second one just a few years ago--after a longtime addiction to drugs.

"I wasn't taking care of my eyes, because I was too worried about getting my next fix."

Nelson said he turned to a life of crime to feed his need for drugs.

Crack, coke, and even heroin were his prime choices.

"When you first do heroin you throw up. You throw your toe nails up," Nelson said. "But the calming--it was very calming to me. It was very warm, and I liked it."

Click here to learn how TN doctors are working to make it harder to abuse pain killers.

Memphis Police Department said heroin usage is spiking in the Bluff City.

In 2013, 24 people died from heroin overdoses. Thirty-three died in 2014, and 27 died in 2015.

Just two months into 2016 and 17 people have already died from overdosing in Memphis.

Colonel Michael Hardy is the commander with MPD's Organized Crime Unit. He said heroin is a suburban drug, and it's in high demand because it's cheap.

His unit alone confiscated more than five pounds of heroin last year.

Now police are taking extra measures to keep this deadly drug off the streets.

"We have started to approach this heroin epidemic the same way we approached the crack cocaine epidemic," Hardy said. "We're increasing our enforcement efforts as related to heroine. We're also increasing our investigation techniques as it relates to the overdose victims that we're seeing."

Bill Nelson wants to take it one step further by encouraging addicts to get clean.

"There is a way out," Nelson said. "I have never known one good thing to come from drugs!"

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