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US Attorney hires new prosecutor to tackle heroin problem in Shelby County

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Heroin is a growing problem across the country and now comes in all different forms.

The U.S. Attorney's Office told WREG people are now snorting it and taking it in pill-form more than ever.

Authorities have teamed up to make sure the heroin epidemic gets the attention it deserves.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is creating a new position to hopefully slow down the number of overdoses that have been spiking for years.

U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton, III knows heroin doesn't discriminate.

"This cuts across socioeconomic lines, racial lines, intercity, suburbia; everyone is experiencing this, not only West Tennessee but throughout the country," he said.

The numbers have skyrocketed with over a 200 percent increase in overdoses in the last five years.

Just this year alone, heroin has killed on average one person a week in Shelby County and caused 220 overdoses.

"It's much more pure," said Stanton. "In its purest form, [it's] 98-99 percent pure and it's very, very addictive as well as deadly, unfortunately."

Which is why his office has teamed up with Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich's office to get aggressive.

WREG was told they're hiring a special prosecutor who will solely focus on tackling this epidemic.

"Their goal every day is to make the community safer by taking individuals who are pushing and distributing this poison off the streets," said Stanton.

The position has been filled and the new prosecutor will start by January.

The special prosecutor will work from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but will hold monthly meetings with local, state and federal authorities to make sure the plan is successful. While prosecuting people to the fullest to try and break this cycle.

"Any one life, any one overdose and certainly, any life lost is one too many," said Stanton.