Beware the 'Heroin Rush Hour'

H.I.T. squad out to stop heroin on NKY highways

FORT THOMAS, Ky. -  The word is out about the H.I.T. squad, Lt. Rich Whitford says.

That's the Heroin Interdiction Team, the special Fort Thomas police unit trying to stop the heroin running through their community on I-471 and I-275.

They're making some users nervous. 

"They're telling us the word's out - to stay away from 471/275 because the H.I.T. team's out there," Whitford said

But other drivers are still finding out the hard way.

WCPO introduced you to the H.I.T. squad when we did our first ride-along in February. We went back on the road Friday with Officer Nick Hoffman. Hoffman said police make many stops before 9 a.m. during what's called "Heroin Rush Hour."

"They'll wake up in the morning, run over to Cincinnati, get their stuff, and they're on their way back,"   Hoffman said.

The H.I.T. squad is on the lookout for intoxicated drivers, he said.

 "We're looking for any type of driving violation -- equipment violations -- things that would indicate an intoxicated driver," Hoffman said.

Friday's first stop was a seat-belt violation. The next was a cracked windshield.

No drugs in either.

Then came the third stop: Two young women in a car with a child in the back seat. When heroin is involved, Hoffman hates when children are in the car.

"They have no choice in the matter and it's their parents putting them in that situation, which I have zero tolerance for," Hoffman said.

The driver's purse contained three syringes of what was suspected to be heroin, Hoffman said,

"I've seen it way too much," he added.

The squad had made 150 hits  since February with two-thirds of them related to heroin or opiates. That's a lot more than they expected.

"We thought we'd have some. We didn't know how bad it would be. We were astonished by the numbers we were seeing," said Whitford.

Where do the people cited or arrested actually come from? The data shows that the largest number has Amelia mailing addresses in Clermont County.

The H.I.T. squad has a new wrinkle -- detainees get a wristband from NKY Hates Heroin and information on how to get help.

Whitford hopes motorists heed the warning.

"It's a fact. You're either going to go to jail, you're going to die or hopefully you can beat the devil and you can try to get some help," Whitford said.

SEE WCPO's complete coverage: Heroin in the Tri-State

FIND help for heroin addicts and their families.

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