Journalist Lisa Ling has reported on critical issues across the globe, but she found this shocking story right in the middle of America. Richland County, Ohio, seems like a typical Midwestern community. An hour and a half north of Columbus, it's a mostly rural area with more than 1,000 farms and nearly 130,000 residents. But the people who live here are facing a big-city problem.
Central Ohio, which includes Richland County, is in the grip of what the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) calls a heroin epidemic. Anthony Marotta, the DEA special agent in charge of Ohio, says the drug is coming out of Mexico and being transported to Ohio through the southwest border states.
"Heroin here in Richland County is completely out of control," says Sergeant Don Zehner of the Richland County Sheriff Department. "It's affecting everybody." The situation has gotten so bad, local law enforcement officers say they're in over their heads.
Lisa says the most surprising thing about this devastating phenomenon is that it doesn't discriminate. "I could not believe that people of different ages, different socioeconomic backgrounds, were literally dying this slow death in the middle of America," she says. "The reason why it affected me so much is that I interviewed so many people, and every single one of them was begging for help. Nobody liked that they were addicted to heroin."