In 2012 there were at least 78 heroin related deaths in Jefferson and Shelby counties.
Law enforcement has to act quickly before we see a generation dying in vein.
Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale says the writing is on the wall for heroin distributors.
"We warned people that we were coming after them, and that's exactly what we did," says Hale. "We knew we had a problem. We saw the death. We knew it was a big deal with our intelligence we were getting off the street. It just all came together."Hale's office joined with other local and federal law enforcement to battle heroin trafficking.
The result, taking down a ring responsible for $5 million worth of heroin in the Birmingham area. "It wasn't just a one agency fix. It was collectively. We made a pretty awesome team that made these streets in Jefferson County just a little bit safer," says Hale.If you had been walking down one of those streets at the corner of 2nd Avenue North and Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard early Tuesday morning it would have been raining money.
One of the men arrested threw $50,000 worth of cash out the window of his downtown condominium. "It doesn't surprise me at all," says Hale. "Some of our drug houses, when we work individually and not collectively, we always find five to six thousand dollars worth of drugs."Law enforcement are still looking for 39-year-old Abe "Cuz" Johnson. "We know enough about his activity, we feel good about getting him," Hale says of Johnson.Ultimately, Hale has this message for others who traffic this deadly drug. "You're risking a very lengthy prison sentence. At the very best you're risking the rest of your life in prison. To do this kind of activity for a few bucks, it's really not worth it," says Hale.