The arrests of two people Wednesday and the seizure of 11 grams of heroin is the latest sign that the opiate is gaining popularity because the availability and cost of prescription drugs is becoming problematic on the black market.
Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said as police nationwide have been shutting down pill mills -- operations where a doctor or pharmacy prescribes prescription drugs to those who don't need them -- heroin use has increased.
"What we're seeing for the Florida Keys are constant arrests for cocaine, marijuana and crack cocaine," he said. "Historically, we haven't seen a lot of heroin. But across the nation, there is a large increase in heroin use due to a crackdown on pills."
Wednesday night, Sheriff's Office detectives served a warrant on Room 16 at the Blackfin Resort, across U.S. 1 from the Home Depot store in Marathon, and arrested Shayon Bryant, 42, of Marathon and Jessica Frederick, 30, of Miami.
Police say inside the room with the suspects were about 11 grams each of heroin and crack cocaine, five grams of marijuana, more than a dozen Xanax pills, drug paraphernalia and more than $800 cash. The money is likely proceeds from drug sales, agency spokeswoman Becky Herrin said.
There were also two children in the room. Herrin said confidentiality laws don't allow the release of the kids' ages or whose children they are, but one was turned over to a parent and the other was turned over to the state Department of Juvenile Justice.
Bryant is charged with felony counts of trafficking heroin, possession of heroin with intent to sell, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, child neglect and tampering with evidence. Bryant also is charged with possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
According to the state Department of Corrections, he's on felony probation until May 30, 2017, after being sentenced in 2012 on convictions of possessing cocaine and Ecstasy. Those arrests happened in 2011.
Frederick is charged with felony counts of child neglect and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.
Both were being held without bond Friday in the Monroe County Detention Center.
Bryant, whom jail records say is a landscaper, has a long Monroe County rap sheet. In the past, he's been charged with several counts of selling cocaine, dealing drugs within 1,000 feet of a school or church, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, resisting arrest, marijuana possession and probation violation.
Frederick, whom records say is a student, housekeeper, cashier and waitress, also is no stranger to the justice system. Her rap sheet includes arrests for fraud, probation violation, possessing cocaine and tampering with evidence.