'Crime Watch Daily' With Chris Hansen Investigates America’s Growing Heroin Epidemic

By Victoria Kim 01/17/17

The six-part special investigation tackles the spread of opioid addiction across the suburbs of America.

Chris Hansen
Chris Hansen Photo via YouTube

On Tuesday’s episode of Crime Watch Daily, host Chris Hansen visits small town USA to explore the impact of the opioid epidemic. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than half a million Americans have died of a drug overdose from 2000 to 2015. This rise in fatal overdoses is fueled by opioid substances like prescription painkillers or heroin. 

Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the United States nearly quadrupled, according to the CDC. During the same period, deaths from prescription opioids have also quadrupled.

It’s estimated that 91 Americans die every day from opioid overdose—people like Keely Warren, whose drug problem began with a prescription for Oxycontin to treat a back injury. The “All American kid” from Georgia died of a heroin overdose in 2014. 

“I don’t think anybody really understood that pills that a doctor prescribed could lead to heroin addiction,” Keely’s mother, Michelle Neese, tells Hansen in the episode. Since her son’s passing, Neese has gone on to create the Keely Foundation to commemorate her son and provide a support system for anyone affected by opioid addiction.

Crime Watch Daily 

A video slideshow on the Keely Foundation’s website shows the faces of those lost to opioid addiction. It’s five minutes long. “At the time Keely died, we buried six kids in this community, all from heroin overdoses,” said Neese.

Daniel Regan, a med student, said he would have continued down the same path if it weren’t for his mother dramatically breaking down the door of his “drug den” and rescuing him. His problem with meth and heroin also began with a back injury.

Hansen, well known for his work on To Catch a Predator, also visits Ohio, which has become notorious for its high concentration of heroin overdoses. “We’re very strong on the dealers, but we’re focusing on treatment,” said Sheriff Phil Plummer of Montgomery County. “You know, people are relapsing six or seven times. We’re trying to help people and that’s what our profession is supposed to be doing.”

Plummer also touches on human trafficking, just one of the many unsavory byproducts of the opioid epidemic. “Human trafficking is getting very prevalent around here,” says the sheriff. “You know, mostly sex trafficking because of [heroin].” 

A few recent arrests highlight the problem. One example is a man named Charles Robinson. He was arrested last October in Lee, Massachusetts, where he was found in a motel with one of the women who he allegedly sold for sex online. According to prosecutors, Robinson kept one woman “strung out on heroin” while she worked for him.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey stated at the time that human traffickers have even staked out methadone clinics to recruit women with promises of drugs, food and housing.

“We haven’t even touched on the social problems—the hepatitis, the AIDS, the great cost towards the medical system,” Sheriff Plummer told Hansen. 

You can tune into Crime Watch Daily's "Special Investigation into America's Growing Heroin Epidemic" on Tuesday, January 17, at 1pm Eastern Time on PIX11.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr