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TPD undercover officers tackle heroin

With heroin use in Northwest Ohio skyrocketing, the Toledo Police Department's Vice Narcotics Unit says its hands are full.

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Addicts and those dealing it call it fire, and for about 20 bucks, those addicted to heroin can take their sick feeling away and the high their body craves.

Officer's say the core of the problem is those dealing the drug. That's because they're making money feeding on the weak.

With heroin use in Northwest Ohio skyrocketing, the Toledo Police Department's Vice Narcotics Unit says its hands are full.

Right now, they're focusing on the parts of town where the most overdoses occur. These officers say heroin addicts generally use the drugs they buy within minutes of the transaction. So, where there are overdoses, there are drug dealers, and that is who Vice is after.

WTOL's Michelle Zepeda went along for the ride as the team focused in on parts of east Toledo where there have been 153 overdoses since April.

Though they can't get into specifics of how they operate, they do say a large portion of their day is spent inside the office compiling data, so when they do head out they know the hot places to hit to catch up to those selling, which isn't always easy.

"Now they are constantly changing up their m-os because they are trying to stay one step ahead of the police. They are dealing out of cars, and things like that. So, when that changes, we have to change. So, we try to stay one step ahead of them," said Sgt. Bill Bragg, Toledo Police Department.

As if the problem isn't bad enough, they're not only dealing drugs to regular users, but they're actually giving it away for free to those trying to kick the habit, hoping to get them hooked again and ramp up their business.

"These guys are heartless," says Sgt. Bill Bragg from the TPD Vice Unit.

Bragg and his team are out daily hunting down the dealers, and working to peg the places where these drug transactions are going down.

"We're not out here trying to put everyone in jail and make everybody's life miserable," Bragg said.  "We're trying to work our way up to get the dealers off the street. Those are the ones we want to see in jail. Those are the ones we want see punished, because they are killing people."

Bragg says he's never seen anything like this heroin epidemic.

It's a sobering answer from the veteran of the force, who has been dealing with Toledo's drug problem for nearly decades.

"One thing police have seen is those are using in parking lots keep their car on, put their foot on the break and car in drive," Bragg said. "That way if they overdose, they will hit another car getting someone's attention."

So when they are using and driving, they are under the influence and putting anyone driving near them in danger.

"Absolutely they are. There's no doubt about it," Bragg says. "The drug is very mind altering. The same as drinking and driving."

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