Southern Illinois authorities target heroin deaths -

Southern Illinois authorities target heroin deaths


O'FALLON, Ill. (AP) -- The top federal prosecutor in southwestern Illinois says a surge in heroin-related overdose deaths in recent years has prompted authorities to crack down on people found responsible for dealing the drug.

The Madison County coroner says there were 30 such deaths in his jurisdiction over the past three years, including 18 in 2010. So far this year, there have been four.

U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton says authorities plan to treat every overdose scene like a crime scene and every overdose as a potential homicide.

Wigginton says his office has been working with police, coroners and prosecutors to work out a policy in which evidence is preserved, police collect it and federal agents try to trace it to the dealer.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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