Heroin creeps into Tri-Cities

Heroin problem grows

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - The Sullivan County Sheriff's Department stopped thousands of dollars worth of heroin from coming into the Tri-Cities, but they say it's a growing problem.

"It's uncommon is for us to intercept such a large amount," said Leslie Earhart, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's department.

After a five month long investigation, vice and narcotics detectives arrested Carlos Altiery at the Greyhound bus terminal in Bristol, Tennessee last week. Altiery was transporting 900 bindles of heroin in to the Tri-Cities, an estimated street value of $30,000. Click here to read more about the arrest.

"We received information that large amounts of heroin were being brought into the area from New York," she said.

Earhart explained a bindle is a small envelope or baggie of heroin that is about one-tenth of a gram. She said here, each bindle sells for about $30 each, which is a high street value. Which could explain why dealers are targeting the area.  "There's more of a demand, there's not as much competition here as in the larger cities so they can get more money here simply because of the demand," said Earhart.

She said the drug is also popular because it's an opiate and it's cheaper on the streets than pills. "A lot of times, people who are hooked on prescription drugs, like Oxycotin, will take the next step and go to heroin."

Now law officials say they are seeing more cases involving heroin more often. "Since I've been here, for about 11 years, we hadn't seen a lot. But in the past year, we've seen quite a bit," said Kent Chitwood, Assistant District Attorney in Sullivan County.

Detectives also found more than 130 pills in Altiery's pocket. He faces various drug charges.

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