Four people are in jail in Jefferson County accused of selling heroin to as many as 100 customers a day, primarily young people in their teens and twenties.
Julio Cesar Gandara-Quinones, Gustavo Adolfo Valdivia-Garcia, Reynaldo Anguiano-Valdivia, and Acela Davalos-Castanedo were arrested and officers seized about 7 ounces of heroin with a street value of $36,000.
The West Metro Drug Task Force began investigating this suspected drug ring in July. The ring was relatively small by law enforcement standards.
Detectives think they were selling about a half pound of heroin a week.
They know there's a lot more out there and it could be in your child's school.
Teens who use prescription drugs like OxyContin, which sells for $50 to $60 a pill, are switching to heroin, which sells for $40 a dose.
Heroin is cheaper, easier to find, and much more dangerous.
9Wants to Know spoke with Krys, a 50-year-old recovering drug addict who never used heroin but knows many people who do.
"It will destroy your life," Krys said. "I was a teenager when I became an addict. I've had many friends that have died from heroin overdoses."
The West Metro Drug Task Force says heroin is coming back. A lot of it is coming into Colorado from Mexico, but it's also shipped from Afghanistan.
Sgt. William Blackburn has investigated heroin cases in Arvada and Lakewood high schools in just the last six months.
"I would say in the last 18 months there has been a resurgence," Blackburn said. "It destroys lives, especially young people's lives."
Blackburn says many users still live with their parents.
"I believe that parents don't know the signs to look for. They just don't know what to look for. And I think a lot of these young people are just operating under the radar," Blackburn said.
Blackburn says warning signs include lack of attention, irritability, losing interest in life, and a sudden drop in grades.
"Are all indicators that there is a problem," Blackburn said. "We've seen an uptick in overdoses, period, but we've also seen an increase fatalities resulting from overdose."
The money to buy drugs has to come from somewhere and addiction often leads to other crimes.
"I was stealing anything that I could. I was lying," Krys said.
Krys, who has been clean for more than 25 years, now offers support for other recovering addicts at Narcotics Anonymous.
"If you want help, we're here," Krys said.
She says teens hooked on heroin, or any drug, will need a lot of help.
"You're going to end up in jail. You're going to end up in a hospital, or you're going to die," Krys said.
HOW TO FIND ADDICTION HELP:
Colorado Region of Narcotics Anonymous:
Denver Metro Area:
303-832-DRUG or 303-832-3784
North Eastern Colorado:
North Western Colorado:
970-879-HELP or 970-879-4357
Northern Front Range:
Colorado Springs Metro Area and Salida: