Maryland's Eastern Shore is not immune to the heroin epidemic facing the state, with overdose numbers more than doubling in the past year.
The numbers paint a clear picture of the growing problem. In 2015, there were a total of 141 overdoses. As of mid-December 2016, that number had more than doubled to 370 overdoses.
The increase in overall heroin overdoses also translates to more lives lost. In 2015, there were 17 heroin overdose deaths in those counties, but in 2016, that grim statistic had risen to 41 as of mid-December.
ABC2 News digs deeper into the heroin crisis gripping our region at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22.
Lt. Mark Meil with the Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Department explained that everything related to heroin use is on the rise.
"We've seen an increase in overdoses and fatalities and non-fatality calls for service and arrests. Arrests have gone up considerably in the past year, and that's because of our efforts and enforcement to rid the community of this criminal element and this problem we're having with heroin," Meil said.
Recent efforts in Queen Anne's County had deputies serving 28 separate search warrants, which netted 31 criminal indictments. In November, police seized almost two pounds of heroin from one drug bust in the Talbot County community of Easton with a street value of almost $150,000.
"First and foremost obviously enforcement is up. We are trying to get on the street would be more visible, be more proactive with our local truck task force doing search warrants investigations, wire taps and those kind of things." Lt. Meil said. "Secondly, education with the community is definitely a priority. We are communicating with social services, with other divisions in the county to help get the word out the dangers of these drugs."
So far in 2016, law enforcement on the Eastern Shore has made 304 arrests related to heroin. The arrest numbers illustrate that growing focus when compared to 2015 when there were 18 arrests.