ANDERSON, SC (WSPA) – It’s a problem that can be seen in any town, any county and any state across the country.
Statistics show that every day more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on drugs.
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office is working to bring those numbers down by taking the fight to the streets.
“Interstate 85 is a conduit for the transportation of drugs,” Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride said.
Those drugs are coming off the exits and spreading throughout the County.
McBride told us the drugs are anything from methamphetamine to prescription pills.
“This is where your West Whitner becomes popular your Booker Streets. The area’s glaring with drug infestation because you walk or drive down somewhere when it’s dark, but what we don’t realize is as easily accessible as it is here it is in your Thronhills or your Tuscans,” Bradley Saxon, who is a recovering addict in Anderson and now owns the Bridge Center, said.
This drug epidemic is impacting communities in more ways than one.
“You can link it to burglaries, car thefts, breaking into cars, fraud, domestic violence it’s just linked to so many groups of crime in this county,” McBride said.
McBride’s goal when he took office two years ago was to stop the bleeding of drugs into the county. His solution was to throw more resources at the biggest problem.
He said they started the street narcotics unit, which is pulling more drugs, money and people off the streets.
Together, this unit works with narcotic investigators and a new interstate team. In total, the unit has grown to 18 personnel members, which is triple what it was before McBride took office.
In 2014, the sheriff’s office arrested 397 people for narcotics. In 2015, there were 520 arrests for narcotics and in 2016 there were 678.
Under McBride’s administration, drug arrests were up to 1,227 in 2017 and 1,214 drug arrests in 2018.
“Some of those we’ve arrested 15-20 times the last few years and sometimes that gets frustrating, but we still do our part,” McBride said.
The sheriff told 7News he hopes to grow the unit to 30 people dedicated to fighting drugs in the county, but knows it could take years to build those resources.
“There has always been a big footprint of drugs in this county so we wanted to focus on our biggest problem and put more manpower to combat it the best we can and still that is not enough. I would love to put more manpower on it, but we definitely have made a larger effort then in the past,” McBride said.
Just in the month of April this year, deputies report the following was seized by the Special Investigations Division along with 28 arrests.
Marijuana seized – 196 grams
Methamphetamine seized – 662 grams
Cocaine HCL seized – 146 grams
Crack Cocaine seized – 21.5 grams
Pills seized – 18
Ecstasy seized – 82 DU, MDMA 40 grams
Heroin seized – 3.4 grams
Money seized – $8,147
After trial, the drugs are taken to SLED where they are destroyed, but the money is invested back into more resources to fight the war on drugs at the Sheriff’s Office.
“If we seize it, we will turn around and invest that money into more equipment, vehicles or surveillance. Whatever it is that our guys need to combat the problem further,” McBride said.
This change is one the community tells 7News they see, but believe it’s only the first step to tackling the war on drugs.
“While there is a war on drugs and a war on crime, these are some real people too that have real lives and are in need of some real hope too,” Saxon said.
Saxon struggled with addiction before getting clean and opening the Bridge Center. Now he helps those same men who the deputies see each day find their way out of this addicting life.
“The most heartbreaking thing is knowing there is a problem and sitting on the sidelines thinking time will heal it,” Saxon said.
While one man and one agency may not be the end all solution, each person is a victim to this epidemic so they are working to leave Anderson County Better than they found it.
To find out more information about the Bridge Center and their mission to help in the recovery process, you can head over to their website https://www.thebridgecenterrecovery.org/.