ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Police say heroin is one of the top drivers of violent crime in the St. Louis area.
When 27-year-old Joseph Lauth was arrested on suspicion of burglarizing up to 16 homes in Franklin County, he told investigators he did it to feed his habit.
Last year, when a robber admitted to police he held up a Southern Commercial Bank, then immediately went to buy $200 worth of heroin, police were not surprised.
“In the city of St. Louis we interview every burglary and robbery suspect and it’s well over 90 percent that are addicted to heroin,” said St. Louis police Captain Dan Howard.
Addicts are getting hooked on a new, potent powdered form of heroin that’s flooding in from Mexican drug cartels. If the addiction is so strong, addicts will do anything, commit any crime to get more.
Officials said reduce the drug and you’ll reduce crime.
DEA agent James Shroba said his agency’s approach to fighting heroin if multi-faceted.
“Our focus is to cut off the supply and disrupt or dismantle the organizations,” Shroba said.
Last year, in what they called a 60-day blitz, the DEA worked with local police departments on both sides of the river to tackle the local heroin problem. At the end of that 60 days they arrested 90 suspects.
The DEA said the real success will come from locking up the leaders of the cartels responsible for hundreds of murders a year in Mexico and thousands of ruined lives in America.
But it doesn’t happen quickly.
“What we’re battling here are well financed, powerful and ruthless organizations that are extremely sophisticated,” Shroba said.
One of the ways the DEA is fighting back against heroin is working with local police and prosecutors to convince potential new users it’s too dangerous to try.
And while they’ve seen some success—the number of heroin overdoses has leveled off – it’s one small success in a big battle.