by: Tom Regan Updated:
ATLANTA - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is reporting some surprising numbers on the amount of heroin that their chemistry lab is testing.
The drugs come from seizures by local law enforcement agencies across the state including metro Atlanta.
"From 2011 to 2014 we saw a three hundred percent increase in heroin to our crime labs state wide," said Assistant GBI Chemistry Section Manager Deneen Kilcrease.
Kilcrease told Channel 2's Tom Regan the new figures represent a dangerous and disturbing trend. In 2011, the GBI processed 276 cases of heroin. So far this year, the number has soared to 863. At the same time, there's been a marked decline in the number of opiate pill cases.
"For us that says that heroin is very available and very cheap compared to prescription pills," said Kilcrease.
Kilcrease said beyond the cheaper price, heroin is often easier to acquire and is much stronger than pain pills. Therein lies the danger and risk of a deadly overdose, especially for those who quit using and then return to the drug.
"You don't know what you're getting. It could be mixed with anything and additionally you don't know how strong it is," said Kilcrease.
GBI chemists do not try to track the origin of heroin they test. But drug enforcement investigators tell Channel 2 Action News much of the heroin that is used in metro Atlanta is shipped from drug dealers in Mexico.