Agents from the North Carolina Drug Enforcement Administration and officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department gathered into teams and set out to find black tar heroin users on Thursday.
Authorities said they’ve changed their focus from the dealers to the users, and they went to known drug users homes to offer them assistance in battling their addiction in exchange for their help.
"We're trying to take a different approach where we're going to go out, make contact with these people and see if they're willing to cooperate with us,” said John Emerson of the N.C. DEA.
The authorities call it Operation Intervention.
On Thursday they visited the homes of 40 people to offer help from a local drug treatment center in hopes users will offer information.
At a house near Independence Boulevard and Idlewild Road, a 30-year-old drug addict said he began using heroin two years ago.
"It's definitely a battle, you know. It's a fight for your life," he said.
He said he's already getting help at a clinic.
"I think it's great. It's your only option out," he said.
Emerson said he hopes that talking to users will give officers more insight on Charlotte's drug trade and will help break the cycle.
"This is an option to get them treatment before they get arrested, before they go through the criminal justice system,” he said.
Police said drug cartels in Charlotte each have their own heroin distribution areas, which include Ballantyne, Providence Plantation and Stonehaven in the southeast, the edge of Mint Hill to Plaza Midwood in the east and Interstate 85 and Interstate 77 in the west.
The users targeted Thursday can sign a waiver that lets officers find out whether they go for treatment. If they don't go but are caught on drug charges again, officers said they'll be looking at jail time and not treatment.