ID=2128486Twenty-two people have been indicted on various charges related to a large drug ring that brought heroin and fentanyl into Middle Tennessee, according to U.S. Attorney David Rivera.

As of this morning, 21 suspects are in custody. Darnell Finnels is the only suspect not in custody.

A pound of heroin can fetch more than $40,000 on the street.

Metro police and officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration say heroin rings like this one were once a rarity in Nashville, but they have become a familiar threat as heroin use has skyrocketed in Middle Tennessee.

"Over the last year or so, it unfortunately has become a more common occurrence," said Mike Stanfill, assistant special agent in charge at the Nashville office of the DEA.

Stanfill said the heightened demand for the drug is driven by addictions to prescription painkillers like Oxycontin. The drugs were developed as synthetic opiates — essentially the same family as morphine and heroin.

The rise of heroin "is economically driven," Stanfill said.

A typical 30 milligram Oxycontin pill costs about $30, Stanfill said. A typical dose of heroin, or a tenth of a gram, is much cheaper, at $10-$15.