Union County is seeing a rise in heroin use, according to local law enforcement.

Union County is seeing a rise in heroin use, according to local law enforcement.

"Heroin is making a comeback, at least here locally," Union County Prosecutor David Phillips said. "The intelligence I've been given shows it's Mexican gangs in Columbus bringing it in."

Phillips said he feels heroin use is a "growing threat" in Union County.

"Within recent months, we've seen a lot of heroin arrests," he said. He was not able to give an exact number. He said most arrests are young adults.

Union County Sheriff Rocky Nelson said he knows of at least two deaths related to heroin overdoses in recent months.

"The overdoses with heroin are just hitting little Union County pretty hard right now," Nelson said. "Education is key. You want to catch it before you hit the rehabilitation."

Phillips is working to educate the public with an informational booth at the fair.

Sgt. Chris Skinner of the sheriff's office said the booth has been very busy.

"We have a pretty good flow of people through here," Skinner said. He estimated about 200 people approach the booth every day.

Skinner said the booth is meant to educate potential drug users and their families. He said the booth gives people warning signs that someone they love might be abusing heroin.

Phillips said he thinks several factors contribute to increased use.

"It's cheap. I think on the street, you can buy a little balloon for $10 or less," he said. "The purity of the heroin has gone up and the price has decreased, and it's a highly addictive drug."

He said there are no specific "hot spots" for heroin use; it's widely spread all over the county.

Phillips said he wants to stop the problem through treatment, education and arrests

"It's not our desire to lock a bunch of people up. It's our desire to stop the drug abuse. We'll seek treatment for users, but for dealers, we'll seek jail time," Phillips said.

Heroin is made from morphine and is very addictive, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It usually appears as a white or brown powder, or a black, sticky substance known as "black tar heroin." It can be injected, sniffed or smoked. It causes users to feel euphoric and can cause serious health problems, such as heart, liver and kidney issues. Overdosing can be fatal.