Crime Scene TapeLaw enforcement officers around Iowa are reporting a dramatic rise in the use and distribution of one of the most dangerous and addictive illegal drugs – heroin.

Paul Feddersen, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement (DNE), says heroin seizures rose from less than 500 grams in 2013 to over 200,000 grams in 2014. DNE agents believe much of the heroin is coming to Iowa from Chicago.

“Most of the seizures are in eastern Iowa,” Feddersen said. “The main counties are Johnson, Linn and Scott Counties. So, heroin is coming to Iowa, it is here.” The rise in the abuse of prescription painkillers is tied to the rise in heroin use, according to Feddersen.

“Many people start out with prescription drugs, then eventually move on to heroin because heroin is cheaper, more available and it’s a better high,” Feddersen said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports there were 20 heroin-related overdose deaths in the state last year. That’s more than double the amount in any previous year over the past decade. Overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, have also been rising in Iowa – with 77 such deaths in 2014.