For many months now, we've been reporting on the heroin epidemic in the New Orleans area as well as across the country.
But now some areas are seeing another dangerous drug on the rise in a small community not known for violence.
It's been several years since crack cocaine has been a big problem in St. Bernard Parish, but now the sheriff's department says it's making a comeback.
"When you see crack cocaine normally you see a lot of violence that goes along with it, so we wanted to make sure our guys got on the top of that really quick before we start seeing any type of street violence relative to the crack cocaine sales," said Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann.
So after a three month-long investigation with state and federal agencies,, the St. Bernard Sheriff's office rounded up 12 men, four women and three juvenile boys, Thursday in the Violet area for distribution of crack. Deputies are looking for eight more suspects and say the cases are not all related.
We stopped and talked to more than a dozen people in Violet who didn't want to go on camera because they feared retaliation, even if we didn't show their identities, but they told us three important things. They said that crack is being sold to support people's heroin addictions. They said vo tech needs to come back into the classroom and they said when people go to jail all they are doing is learning how to sharpen their criminal skills.
"We put money on the back end, on incarceration, when we should be putting money on the front end for trying to treat the people who have this disease," said Pohlmann.
The Sheriff knows the pain first hand after losing a son to addiction. So he speaks from experience when he talks about the drug epidemic.
"There's three things that you have to do. You need to educate our kids. You need to treat the addicts and you need to arrest the drug dealers. When people tell you that drug offenses is a non violent offense, I say that's not true, you know. People are dying everyday because of drugs."
Over the years doctors have told us that they too can tell when crack cocaine is out on the streets because they see more traumatic wounds and injuries come in to the emergency room as compared with heroin.
Those arrested are from Violet unless otherwise designated. Arrested for heroin distribution were Jonathan Green, 44, and Terrence Grant, 36.
Arrested for crack distribution were three juvenile males whose names weren’t released because they are minors: Jason Blaise, 28; Melody Lafrance, 42; Allen Jones, 50; Ronald Jones, 24; Michael Bell, 63; Dwestley Ratcliff, 17; Tony Washington, 27; Deshawn Matthews, 46; Tammy Trice, 56, of New Orleans; Jocrisco Trice, 34; and Tedrick Hurts, 51, of Chalmette.
Also, Bryant Major, 44, was booked with distribution of pills, Kenneth Turner, no age available, was booked with possession of marijuana and Shawn Smith, no age available, was booked with parole violation.
Those still wanted are: Tevin Harrison, 25; Jermaine Mitchell, 40; Jermone Frederick.31 Andre Major, 31; David Johnson, 44; Damien Landry, 24; Alvin Duplessis, 47; and Ikeria Narcisse, 23.