INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Handling the skyrocketing use of heroin in Central Indiana is part of an all-out, every day effort by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. 24-Hour News 8 found Chicago and one man in Mexico are at the heart of Indiana's heroin problems.
There's a plentiful supply of heroin in Indiana and the price is down. It's a potent and potentially deadly mix. Dennis Wichern, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, in Indiana sees it first hand.
"It's a big problem in Indy. We've seen a lot more, and we've seen it climb in the last couple of years," says Wichern.
It’s in large part because of Joaquin Guzman.
"Chopo Guzman," says Wichern, who explained Chopo means "shorty." "That's what DEA calls him. Probably the biggest drug lord out in Mexico. He handles the heroin market. And most of the heroin runs right through Chicago."
"Indianapolis is a different place because of what this guy's done. I mean that's a fact," says John Lippert, a reporter for Bloomberg Markets Magazine.
Lippert spent six months with two other reporters investigating Guzman. They found Guzman has a monopoly on the heroin drug trade in the Midwest. And in Chicago, it's added to the skyrocketing murder rate.
"There's a monopoly supplier taking off a bigger percentage for himself of the profits, so there's less profit in the street. And if you want to increase your profit, one way to do that is take over street corners," says Lippert.
"We haven't seen that," says Agent Wichern. "At the wholesale level we're not seeing the shootings or killings like Chicago is.”
What Wichern says Indianapolis has seen is the human toll heroin is taking on young adults, like 20-year-old Jazzmin Brown, who we profiled in June. She’s a quadriplegic now because of a heroin overdose. Sitting in her wheelchair with her mother nearby, Brown says, "I asked my doctor, when am I going to walk again? And they're like, you're not."
But Guzman doesn’t care, says Wichern.
Agent Wichern says those addicted to prescription drugs often move to heroin. Because Guzman has a monopoly on the distribution, he can keep the price low, making it easy for those looking for a high to get hooked.
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