DeWine: Drug Dealers Targeting Suburbs - WCMH: News, Weather, and Sports for Columbus, Ohio

DeWine: Drug Dealers Targeting Suburbs

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

For the first time in history, the Ohio Attorney General's office has a task force focused on one drug: heroin.

Attorney General Mike DeWine said the problem is that critical, and he has another message -- that Ohio's suburbs are the target of the drug dealers.

"They think heroin is Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, but not in my suburb, and they're dead wrong," DeWine said.

At least 800 people died of heroin overdoses in Ohio in 2012, but DeWine said the number is likely that when heroin is added in as a secondary cause of death. For example, when someone high on heroin dies in a car crash, heroin is listed as a secondary cause of death.

But too many local leaders fail to recognize that heroin is on their doorstep.

"The Mexican drug cartels and that's what they are … great marketers. They are not only marketing in the city they decided frankly to go where the money is. Well, where's the money? It's in the suburbs. Where's less risk? In the suburbs. That's where they're going," DeWine said.

DeWine said heroin dealers aren't just standing on street corners. They are meeting market demands by delivering to the front door of suburban houses.

"They are great entrepreneurs. They are killing people, but they are great entrepreneurs," DeWine said.

The AG's office already has special agents in anti-drug task forces around the state, but it's not enough.

"So I created a heroin unit. It's the first time there has been a unit in the Attorney General's Office focused on one particular drug, but I felt we had to do that because of the gravity of this crisis," he said. "We are going to work with local law enforcement and frankly … I can't go into all the details because it's sensitive. But we are going to supply local law enforcement with tools they've never had before, and we think over time we are going to be able to crack into some of these major, major drug dealers…and wake some communities up, but that's really kind of the most important thing."

The task force was only announced in the last few weeks, but a few regional meetings have already taken place.

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