JACKSONVILLE — The number of deaths from heroin overdoses doubled in Jacksonville last year, and local officials say it's an unintended consequence of the crackdown on so-called pill mills.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said Friday that 45 people died from a heroin overdose last year, compared to 17 people in 2014. The number of people jailed for heroin-related offenses grew to 117 people last year, compared to 77 in 2014.
The Florida Times-Union reports that law enforcement and health department officials attribute the jump to the crackdown on so-called pill mills. Former pill mill patrons who had gone to clinics for prescription drugs instead turned to heroin since it was cheaper and easier to find on the streets.
Williams said the heroin is coming from Mexico.
"Typically, it is one or two steps out of Mexico and then into Jacksonville," Williams said.
Two other northeast Florida counties, Nassau and Clay, also are seeing upticks in heroin arrests.
Nassau County has had three heroin-related arrests in the past several weeks, compared to one last year, said Sheriff Bill Leeper.
"Prior to the last few weeks, we have not seen a lot of heroin in Nassau County," Leeper said. "But it is something that is really concerning us now."