CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A federal criminal complaint says seven people have been charged in North Carolina's largest city with conspiring to distribute black-tar heroin.
The Charlotte Observer reported the complaint filed Monday says the bust in Charlotte netted about 6 pounds of the heroin.
The six men and one woman each face charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute at least one kilogram of cocaine.
Investigators say Charlotte has become a hub for heroin distribution, with the number of overdoses and deaths associated with the drug increasing sharply.
Helen Harrill has tracked local drug trends for decades at Substance Abuse Prevention Services, and admits police are now warning care providers in the rehab community.
She said, "The treatment centers here are reporting more heroin admissions than any other drug these days."
Ben Stevenson is the point man from Substance Abuse Services sounding the rallying cry against this drug.
"Charlotte is almost like one of the big trafficking areas for the black tar heroin," he said.
Stevenson also said that there is a variety of Black Tar called Cheese, It is cut with Tylenol PM, and is sold for as little as two dollars a hit.
Harrill says it is now a drug of choice among a younger crowd.
" I thought it was the college crowd, but I'm hearing now that high school students are also involved."
Black-tar heroin gets it name from its color and texture. It cost about half as much as other forms of heroin and is considered more dangerous because of its impurities.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)