Sheriff to investigate heroin deaths as homicides

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TOLEDO (AP) -- An Ohio sheriff says his office will begin investigating heroin overdose deaths as homicides and pursue murder charges against dealers who provided the drugs.

Lucas County Sheriff John Sharp has dedicated three full-time and one part-time detectives to investigate overdoses in his county, where heroin deaths have jumped from eight four years ago to 80 last year.

Tharp tells WTOL-TV in Toledo (http://bit.ly/1jTd9It ) Thursday that his agency will gather the facts and turn them over to the county prosecutor.

The tactic is new in Lucas County but familiar to state and federal prosecutors elsewhere trying to reign in a heroin epidemic that continues to grow.

The state Health Department says heroin-related deaths soared 60 percent to 680 in 2012, the most recent year of available data.

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