POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – In 2004, Susan Schorpen was at the center of a Tampa Bay area tragedy when her daughter Carlie Brucia was kidnapped and then killed.
Brucia was abducted while walking home and the abduction was caught on security camera video from a nearby car wash in Sarasota.
Now, Schorpen is at the center of another national story.
On April 10th, Schorpen was found dead in Polk County from a heroin overdose.
“Susan went downhill after the death of her daughter,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Judd held up Schorpen’s photo as he talked about the increasing number of overdose deaths in the county.
“These people are users of illegal drugs and they are victims,” said Judd.
In 2016, five people died from heroin overdose deaths. Already in 2017, that number has risen to eight.
Judd believes it’s a national epidemic.
“This is real, people are dying. It’s not low level, non-violent drugs,” said Judd.
During a three month investigation with Lakeland Police officers, 17 people were arrested in Polk County for trafficking heroin.
Detectives seized more than 600 grams of heroin and confiscated $23,000 in cash.
Judd believes the 17 people arrested are directly responsible for four of the eight heroin overdose deaths in the county and possibly more.
Judd said the traffickers are getting their drugs from Mexico, where the heroin is combined with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Judd said the backroom chemists who are combining the heroin and fentanyl often mix in more of the synthetic opioid than they should, resulting in the overdose deaths as the addicts pursue their highs.
Judd is reassigning a number of assets in his department to work exclusively on heroin related crimes, but he wants to reach out to addicts to get them the help they need.
“We care about them. We care about the drug user. We want to keep them from dying. We want to get them straightened out,” said Judd.
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