6 arrested in heroin crackdown

Jacksonville police, federal agents work to stop opioid epidemic from growing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Six men, who range in age from 33 to 50, were arrested recently arrested after trying to sell or traffic heroin on the streets of Jacksonville, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Most of the cases are not connected, but they involved efforts by undercover officers and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents to stop the heroin epidemic from growing in Jacksonville. 

Byron Jake Butler was caught selling the opioid to undercover officers four separate times, including a buy that took place in a sleeping child's bedroom, police said.

In another takedown, William Brown told police that he was "ashamed" he allowed heroin and prostitution in his home in exchange for company and friendship. 

DEA agents helped arrest Antuan Javaras Jackson, who's accused of trafficking heroin and cocaine in Duval County. When he was booked into the jail, officer said they found $1,600 in cash on him and two guns nearby. 

Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst, said the nationwide crackdown on pill mills has led to addicts looking for other cheap ways to get high.

"Over the past few years, throughout the United States, heroin use has increased tremendously," Smith said. 

Along with the eruption of heroin comes a host of other problems, Smith warned. 

"In a city like Cincinnati, Ohio, it's more than quadrupled in the last year. And so many crime-related issues and health-related issues due to heroin have really caused problems in that city," Smith said. "So here in Jacksonville, they're trying to get on top of it before it becomes a major problem, cracking down on people that are selling and getting treatment for people that are using."

A recent News4Jax I-TEAM investigation uncovered that heroin overdoses are happening most frequently in Arlington and on the Southside. According to the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department, the city is on track for a 270 percent increase in opioid-related overdoses this year in comparison with 2015.

And it's not just Duval County. This summer, St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar said heroin was making a "vigorous comeback" in the county because the drug is more potent, cheaper and easier to get. St. Johns County is even updating computer software to better track heroin usage. 

Heroin is extremely dangerous and potentially deadly because the drug causes the user to stop breathing, impacting the brain by blocking it from sending the signal to breathe. 

Signs that someone may be high on heroin include if they have constricted pupils, or if they're limp or seizing. 

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