DEA battles heroin epidemic in Louisiana

METAIRIE, La. (WGNO)- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is focusing on an epidemic in Louisiana. The real killer, agents say, is heroin.

Access to heroin is getting a lot easier than it should be, and law enforcement at the local, state and federal level are trying to stop it.

The DEA declared today that prescription pills are the gateway to heroin, and that four pills have similar effects to the deadly drug. In an effort to eliminate overdoses, the DEA is going to have a drug "take-back" program October 22 to encourage people who have once been prescribed pain pills to clear out the medicine cabinets instead of leaving them around for friends and family to access.

"The goal here is to save lives. It is to take heroin off the street, educate the pharmaceutical companies, the doctors, the registrants, the people supplying this stuff," said Stephen Azzam, special agent in charge at the DEA. "We know the prescription pill problem led in to the heroin problem."