Law enforcement said they are frustrated in their efforts to try and stop crime in Franklin County that is being fueled by heroin addictions.
Authorities said such addictions are behind the rising number of robberies and burglaries in small towns such as Union and Washington.
“We are seeing a major increase in shoplifting from retail establishments,” said Union Police Chief Norman Brune.
“Those types of crimes permeate all drug trafficking and drug abuse but it is particularly prevalent in heroin,” said Jim Schroba with the St. Louis Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA office).
Schroba said there have been many big drug busts in the area, but law enforcement has had little success curbing drug related crimes.
“Frustration on the scope of the problem and there are so many users,” Schroba said.
Schroba said heroin is cheap and plentiful, making it easy for those who are addicted to more expensive prescription drugs to switch to heroin. The purity level of heroin makes it able to be snorted and can get someone hooked after one use.
Schroba told News 4 law enforcement is making some progress but does not want to tip its hand to kingpins.
“The DEA, along with our partners, we use a variety of resources to penetrate those organizations to identify them from the tail to head so that we take on the whole organization,” Schroba said.
Schroba said the key is to cut off the demand for the drug. He said the success rate in rehab for heroin addiction is low. Police and prosecutors are working with prevention programs to try and reduce the number of first time users and ultimately the number of desperate addicts committing crimes.