COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine plans a new initiative against the spread of heroin across the state.
DeWine says state statistics compiled by his office show the continuing rise in heroin overdose deaths.
"At a minimum, 11 people die each week in Ohio because of heroin," DeWine said.
Of the state's 88 counties, only 47 track heroin deaths. Amid crackdowns on prescription drug abuse in the state, heroin use has jumped as cheap, potent versions have swept into Ohio. In Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland, statistics show that heroin accounted for half of all overdose deaths and the drug killed more people than homicide.
"It has become apparent that there is a heroin problem in every single part of the state," DeWine said.
DeWine says his office will be creating a heroin unit to help local communities deal with the issue. It will include agents, investigators, and outreach efforts.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol has already seized more heroin in the first nine months of this year than in all of 2012. Last year's numbers were even higher than 2011.
DeWine blames a rising demand for the problem. He says suppliers are getting better and better and getting drugs to users, especially in suburban areas. That will also be part of the focus.
"We want to be the go-to resource for law enforcement and communities dealing with this problem," he said.
DeWine says his office is committing about $1 million a year to fund this effort.