News13 Special Report: Heroin epidemic plaguing Myrtle Beach

looks over bags of heroin at a news conference in Cleveland. As state officials in Ohio look to tackle the issue of prescription drug abuse, the number of opiate overdose deaths in Ohio's largest county in one year mirrors the total statewide a decade ago.  The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reports most Cuyahoga County communities have been affected by deaths from prescription painkillers or the street drug heroin. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)
looks over bags of heroin at a news conference in Cleveland. As state officials in Ohio look to tackle the issue of prescription drug abuse, the number of opiate overdose deaths in Ohio's largest county in one year mirrors the total statewide a decade ago. The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reports most Cuyahoga County communities have been affected by deaths from prescription painkillers or the street drug heroin. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Myrtle Beach Police call Heroin the drug that does not discriminate.

Right now, they’re seeing people in their teens to late sixties overdosing, and it’s likely in your neighborhood.

News13 spoke with one undercover officer who is anonymous to protect his identity. He says he’s been in the business for more than 11 years, and he’s never seen heroin out on the streets like it is now.

“There’s drug deals that go on at the mall, parking lots, Walmart parking lots, different store parking lots that the public probably doesn’t even see,” said the officer.

Driving down Ocean Boulevard, the undercover said it’s the tourists that the dealers target there.

“They’ll go out maybe walking the boulevard and sometimes they’ll be aggressive asking people if they need anything, if they need some weed for example or need some powder” said the officer.

Just a few blocks away, in low-income neighborhoods off Mr. Joe White Avenue, dealers use drugs like Heroin and Fentanyl as major forms of income.

“Some people in these neighborhoods aren’t bad people. This is what they know, or they enjoy living here, it’s where they grew up,” said the officer.

One of the officer’s more surprising locations was across town, in the upper-class divisions like the Grande Dunes. He says they’ve seen at least one overdose there.

“This just goes to show you that it’s across all social classes. You go from the poor, low-income society neighborhoods to the upper-income, upper-class society,” said the officer.

He says he believes they’re trafficking the drugs from Mexico and South America, but the origin of this epidemic is right here in the United States.

According to the CDC, 75% of all first-time heroin users report abusing prescription opioids before starting heroin.

Officers believe it was the over-prescribing of those opioids that’s putting cheaper, easier to buy drugs like Heroin and Fentanyl on our streets.

“If somebody goes and buys heroin, they’re probably going to use it within the next five to fifteen minutes tops because they need that fix. Their body becomes dependent on it so much, they’ll become violently ill. They’ll start getting fevers. It’s like the worst flu you can ever imagine times like 50,” said the officer.

In Myrtle Beach, officers are seeing three different drugs. They’re similar, but it’s the difference in their strengths that’s causing problems. There’s Heroin, which is stronger than Morphine, Fentanyl, a prescription Opioid that’s stronger than Heroin, and the most powerful of the three W-18, a synthetic opioid made to treat pain, but wasn’t picked up by pharmaceutical companies.

“They think they’re buying heroin, maybe the drug dealer thinks he’s selling heroin, but in reality, it’s Fentanyl, or maybe it’s this W-18, which is more potent,” said the officer.

If you don’t know which one you’re using or how potent the drug is, it’s easy to take too much.

That’s why EMS crews are getting multiple calls per day, and according to Horry County Coroner Robert Edge, seeing 4-5 deaths per week in Horry County for Heroin overdoses.

“Heroin doesn’t discriminate. It’s across all spectrums, all social classes, white, black, Asian, male, female, poor, rich. It doesn’t discriminate,” said the officer.

Myrtle Beach Police, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, and the Horry County Coroner’s Office are working together to save those lives and get this drug off our streets.

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