HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A joint investigation led to the arrests of six people in Orange County for distributing heroin and fentanyl.
Investigators said they relied on evidence from overdoses and the users themselves to build the case.
“It’s more powerful than anything I have ever seen in my life,” Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said.
Blackwood said the case started with an overdose death in Carrboro back in June 2018. Investigators followed up, looking into other overdoses in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. They discovered links that he said ultimately led them to the six suspects.
“I am, by definition, the keeper of the county,” Blackwood said.
The sheriff said most users they see are white women in their 50s and 60s. He also said heroin is cheaper than ever.
To combat the problem, Blackwood started the Coordinated Opioid Overdose Response Effort (COORE) back in May 2015.
COORE has three parts. First, various law enforcement agencies across the county work together. They’ve created a database on response to overdose calls. Second, a community medic follows up with the abuser. Third, there’s the Sheriff’s Amnesty Program. It encourages people struggling with addiction to come to the sheriff’s office for help.
“When we sit down and talk with these folks, we find that there are so many of the same players popping up throughout the county,” Blackwood said.
Authorities identified those arrested as Robert Ramsey Green II, Mitchell Lucas, Leroy Lunceford, Ryan Meggison, Dylan Mescall, and Christopher Tootle.
“These are folks that are dealing in heroin and fentanyl that’s killed people. One of these individuals has had two people die in his living room,” Blackwood said.
This is the biggest bust under the program to date.
The sheriff said the investigation is ongoing and more charges are expected.