The Drug Enforcement Administration’s 10-month investigation in St. Charles Country produced more than 50 arrests related to Heroin Trafficking. Heroin is a major problem affecting our country. Many people do not realize how close to home the problem is until coordinated efforts by law enforcement like these bring it to light. The article below is from written by Mark Schlinkmann and Susan Weich. If you or a loved one have questions about heroin and what solutions are available to treat opiate addictions, please contact ARCA today at 314-645-6840.

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • Authorities announced on Wednesday the arrest of 54 people — most over a 30-hour period — as part of an aggressive push to combat St. Charles County’s growing heroin problem.

“We have an epidemic,” County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said at a news conference with local and federal law enforcement officials. “What historically’s been seen as an urban drug is now very clearly right here in suburbia.”

James Shroba, agent in charge of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s St. Louis office, said the 10-month investigation targeted some of the metro area’s “most ruthless and violent heroin traffickers.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Lohmar said, 50 of those picked up had been charged — with three accused of involuntary manslaughter in heroin overdose deaths.

Many were charged with heroin distribution. Drug possession and weapons charges also were filed. More charges are expected later, Lohmar said.

Most arrests were in St. Charles County, but some were elsewhere in the metro area. Authorities said 7.5 pounds of heroin and other opiates — amounting to 34,000 “dosage units” — were seized in the operation. So were 28 guns, 15 of them stolen.

Among those charged with involuntary manslaughter were Michael Ross Waldheuser, 28, and his brother, Harry William Waldheuser IV, 30, both of the 200 block of Wild Winds Drive near O’Fallon, Mo. They allegedly supplied heroin to Steven “Kade” Kidman, 29, who Lohmar said died of an overdose.

Also charged with involuntary manslaughter was Jodi Marie Cordry, 31, of the 2500 block of Melody Lane in Fenton. She is alleged to have supplied methadone, which is used to reduce withdrawal symptoms of heroin addiction, to Christopher Hegger, 29, of O’Fallon, who overdosed on the drug.

The Waldheusers and Cordry also face other charges.

Lohmar said those facing trafficking charges weren’t all part of one ring but there were connections among some of them.

“This is a web,” he said. “You don’t know where it starts and you don’t know where it ends.”

Shroba, the DEA official, said the heroin problem had grown across the metro area.

“It’s not that you can point to one region or one community or one neighborhood,” he said.

Past anti-heroin efforts in the county had been aimed at users, but this initiative targeted the distributor, Lohmar said.

The number of overdoses from heroin has been on the rise in St. Charles County, officials say. According to statistics provided by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, 243 people have died of a heroin overdose in the past eight years, 40 of them in 2014.

Statistics from the county’s ambulance district show a steady increase in the use of narcan, a drug used to counteract an overdose. The drug has been used nearly 2,000 times in the past six years and is projected to be used 450 times this year, officials say.

Lohmar said the new initiative came about after successful previous prosecutions of three heroin distributors on manslaughter charges.

In 2013, a St. Charles couple, Whitney Patrick and Thomas Lucas, were the first ever charged in the county with manslaughter by distribution, he said. They sold the drug to Jemil Francis Ely, 23, who ovedosed and died.

Patrick and Lucas both pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

“That gave us the green light that OK, our community sees that even though the person who bought the heroin is assuming risk, we’re still going to hold the one who distributed the heroin accountable for the death,” Lohmar said.

Lohmar said he had been contacted by officials with the DEA and they formed a partnership with the county drug task force. In the current sweep, police began making arrests early Tuesday.

Lohmar called the initiative’s scope “unprecedented” in the county. He said many in the general public didn’t realize the heroin issue was as serious as it was. Authorities wanted “to make a big statement … that this is a problem.”