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Task Forces Launched To Tackle Heroin Epidemic

HARFORD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)--Deadly addition, heroin use and fatal overdoes are on the rise in almost every Maryland county.

Alex DeMetrick has more on the drug that's easy to use and is being abused.

It's a fix that's become a fixture, in counties that never saw serious heroin use before.

"The heroin challenge in Anne Arundel County is huge," said Steve Schuh, Anne Arundel County Executive.

"The heroin epidemic is spreading into our suburban communities, our rural areas," said Barry Glassman, Harford County Executive.

A distance dealers are happy to cover, following commuters home.

"With a problem like this, it also brings the heroin and drugs right up the east coast corridor and makes us vulnerable," said Glassman.

So counties like Harford and Anne Arundel are launching their own task forces to catch-up and deal with a problem fueled by a high sold at a low price.

"A lot of people who got addicted to the pharmaceuticals kind of said, well heroin's a pretty good price and twice the potency, why don't I do that," said Sam Bierman, Maryland Addiction Recovery Center.

"There are over 300 overdoses a year in our county and a fatality a week," said Schuh.

A WJZ investigation by Jessica Kartalija put a face to that kind of loss. Hanna McLaughlin was 19 when she died from a heroin overdose.

"I called her name, shook her. She wouldn't respond. No parent should ever have to do that," said Lisa McLaughlin.

Last year 450 Marylanders died from heroin overdoses, a 50-percent increase since 2010. Local jurisdictions are bringing drugs to reverse overdoses to more first responders, along with treatment centers, but the competition has a product easy to move.

This sale to an undercover cop took only seconds and targeting dealers is one strategy counties will aggressively pursuit.

"We're going to make Anne Arundel County to be the most miserable to be a drug dealer," Schuh says.

For a drug whose primary side effect is misery.

A number of local jurisdictions are already trying to deal with the heroin epidemic, in advance of a statewide operation promised by the Hogan administration.

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