AKRON, Ohio - The heroin epidemic has spiraled out of control so badly that Akron Police Chief James Nice has decided to form a team to target dealers and possibly charge them with murder.
"If you deal dope that's bad dope and they die from that, you can be held for the homicide," Nice said.
The chief explained that two detectives will be assigned to the unit and will begin "working behind the scenes" each time there's a heroin overdose.
The officers will seize cell phones, execute search warrants and try to determine the source of the drug.
Nice estimated the city experiences at least two heroin overdoses each week.
"I think it's despicable that people are selling heroin, knowing that people are dying right and left from the heroin."
Building a case for murder after users willingly take heroin may be a tough road, but Nice believes the Ohio Revised Code would support the charges.
"I'm going to push prosecutors and push hard in this county to put homicide charges on individuals dealing heroin," he said.
The chief believes his plan will also serve notice to judges.
"Right now, if you're dealing low levels of heroin, it's equal to possession of low levels of heroin and the judges in Summit County are letting them out with zero jail time."
Linda Muckleroy, of Barberton, lost her 28-year-old son, Colby Muckleroy, to a heroin overdose in February 2013.
"I cry every single day... I'll never by okay. He was the love of my life. He was my baby," Linda said.
Colby lived with his parents and they don't believe he was a regular heroin user, but they're convinced he was given a deadly dose after meeting up with two women in Akron.
"He took something somebody gave him and he died," Linda said.
The Muckleroy family believes they have information that could lead police to their son's dealer, but they said officers told them last year that nothing more could done in the investigation.
However, with the formation of the new heroin unit, Linda is optimistic that others could get justice.
"I can't bring my boy back, but it could help someone else."