Marion's Narcotics Unit fights the opioid epidemic - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Marion's Narcotics Unit fights the opioid epidemic

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MARION -- For the last eight years, the number of deaths related to the opioid epidemic have climbed across the country. Southern Illinois has been especially hard-hit by the crisis, keeping local police busy. 
"He had a gun, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy. That house right there," said Detective Jessie Thompson. 

Riding from street to street in Marion, Sergeant Justin Dwyer and Detective Jessie Thompson point to houses they've already busted.

"You could throw a rock right now and hit a distributor or a buyer," said Thompson. 
This team of two drives through the city every day solely focused on getting drugs off the streets. News Three went along on their route as they drove past homes and motels they have reason to believe have drugs inside. 

"Whether you are driving through a nice neighborhood, or a not as nice neighborhood, there are people that we are interested in at all of those places," said Segeant Dwyer. 

Dwyer and Thompson know these streets so well, they were able to tell us which cars belonged at each house and which ones didn't. 

"Knowing our territory is what allows us to successful and find out who doesn't belong in certain areas," said Dwyer.  

"I got almost a pound of heroin out of this hotel," said Thompson. 

Back in 2015, Detective Thompson found rocks of heroin bigger than he'd ever seen-- in the middle of town, in the middle of the day. Sergeant Dwyer says while meth is something the Marion Narcotics Unit sees most, the number of opioids on these streets is concerning. Last year they made over 200 drug arrests, many of them with heroin or prescription medications. 

"There is probably a lot more things like percasets and other prescription medications that are being sold instead of heroin," said Dwyer. 

Sergeant Dwyer explained many of these drugs are coming through the mail. He says it such an issue, they'd like to have more people to focus on just that. 

"There are so many packages, whether its drugs or money that are coming through the postal services like fed ex, USPS, UPS and thats definitely something I wish we could dedicate more man power too and more time, but we tackle it when we can," said Dwyer. 

Dwyer and Thompson say those in Marion can rest knowing they're working dillegently to get opioids and other dangerous drugs out of their community. 

Dwyer said with epidemic just getting worse, he'd like to see better protocol when drug users are given Narcan at the hospital. Because once those users wake up, they can walk right out of the hospital. 

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