NASHVILLE, Tenn. – More than 100,000 people travel along Middle Tennessee’s interstates each day, and unfortunately some of those people are carrying deadly drugs.
Those people are then delivering them to men like former drug dealer Ricky Waller.
“Sleepless nights, many years of just destruction, and as I moved from this apartment around the corner, the doors get kicked down around there,” says Waller.
With a basketball in his hand, “Fat Ricky” had plenty of potential as a young man, but instead, he traded potential for heroin.
“While I’m tying the sock, he would take the spoon, put the powder on it, put some water on it to stir it up, and I used to light the match for him,” Waller told News 2.
He became the main artery for dealing heroin in West Nashville’s Preston Taylor homes off Clifton Avenue.
“Now, I’m controlling the whole community with drugs,” explained Waller.
Law enforcement agencies across Middle Tennessee are seeing more heroin on city streets, and most of it is trafficked in along federal interstates.
“It’s pretty much widespread now from one end of the state to the other,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent Chris Tersigni.
In 2014, 22 people were indicted in a heroin distribution sting in Nashville, and, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, heroin trafficking became the nation’s biggest drug related threat in 2015.
In 2016, the Major Case Task Force uncovered 1.4 pounds off Davidson County interstates. In the same year, the narcotics unit took off 2.5 lbs and the interdiction unit another 3.5 pounds.
Tersigni says Mexican heroin is filling our streets with black tar heroin, Mexican brown heroin, and Mexican white powder.
The bulk of the heroin making its way into Nashville is coming from other major cities along the I-40 and I-65 corridors.
“Like Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, New York, Detroit, these are what I would call the sub-source cities,” said Agent Tersigni.
With the heroin epidemic sweeping the nation, stopping the addictive drug from hitting the streets is a priority, but Tersigni says locking dealers up is not going to curb the problem.
“It’s what I call the ‘three C’s.’ We have to collaborate, we have to cooperate, and we have to coordinate, and if we do that, we’ll be extremely effective in combating this,” said Tersigni.
Agencies rely on folks to hit the streets to give young people something else to do instead of drugs while they tackle the dealers.
Now a minister at the same church where he once sat in a pew and sold drugs, Waller is using his story to teach young people in the area.
“I’ve been free now 25 years. I know what it takes. I don’t care where the drug came from. I know what to do about it,” he told News 2.
He hopes to help young kids from falling into the same game that he did.
Waller also said there is hope to giving up that lifestyle. He has written a book about his story with hopes that people will get faith from it and leave the drug life behind. Click here to find “Still High” on Amazon.