By Marty Griffin

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The greater Pittsburgh area is welcoming a new FBI task force, which will focus on a disturbing increase in violent behavior.

A large bag of heroin, a table full of drug paraphernalia and a car – all of it confiscated during a bust. Also in the car with the suspect were two small children.

“Heroin, everybody talks about how bad it is, but it’s bad,” says Lori Elko, who lost her son, Dakota, to a heroin overdose. “We thought he was okay. We had no clue.”

Overwhelmed by a significant jump in violent crimes and floored by the deaths, the feds are now saying enough is enough.

“People are dying at precipitous rates, and we have to do something about it,” said acting U.S. Attorney Soo Song.

In announcing a new Violent Crimes Task Force, the FBI points out many counties surrounding Pittsburgh have a higher violent crime rate per capita than Philadelphia.

They track much of it back to the illegal drug trade.

“I think there’s a multitude of factors, but I do think that the opioid crisis we have here is the largely contributing factor,” FBI Assistant Special Agent In Charge Chad Yarbrough said.

The new task force will throw money, manpower and focus on the problem, attacking bank robberies, kidnappings and homicides.

“The biggest thing is resources and personnel,” said Yarbrough. “This allows a funding mechanism to pay for overtime, to get them equipment that they need, and bring to bear more resources to actually address specifically violent crime, and then get those cases to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution.”

The task force will begin its work immediately.

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