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Heroin use up; drug arrests down

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Police say heroin is becoming popular because it’s cheaper than pills

By Brad Bowman

Drug statistics from Kentucky State Police Post 5 show a decrease in drug cases, but a shift from methamphetamine and prescription pills to heroin.

In data provided by Ali Parham, Criminal Intelligence Analyst II for KSP Post 5, there  were 48 drug cases opened by any Henry County law enforcement from Jan. 1, 2012, to June 25, 2012.

Marijuana accounted for 25 of those cases and six methamphetamine cases. The heroin cases only accounted for two reported cases.

The data for the same time frame this year shows heroin increased to five cases, on equal footing with methamphetamine. The county’s total number of opened drug cases has dropped to 25 compared to 2012’s 48 opened cases.

Henry County Sheriff’s Department Detective Danny Stivers said the increase in heroin use is a matter of economics.

“It was all pills, but now pills have gotten expensive like the Opanas (oxymorphone, a pain medication) at $100 to $110 a pill or higher,” he said. “The biggest drive in just my understanding is that these pills are the synthetic form of heroin.”

Stivers said the department still receives calls about methamphetamine production.

“We get a lot of calls about people cooking,” he said. “People are using this two-step method with two-liter bottles and they leave them on the side of the road to finish cooking. There’s probably still a lot of meth out there.”

Stivers said most burglary cases he works in the county are the result of drug addiction.

“To me personally the aggravating part are the victims in this county,” Stivers said. “I dare say nine out 10 burglary cases are dope driven. Innocent people who work for a living are away from home during the day and somebody else out here is stealing their property and the county and state can’t afford to keep them locked up.”

KSP Trooper Dave Roberts spent four years undercover working street level narcotics. He said heroin cases have more than doubled since 2011.

“In 2011, there were 456 circuit cases that involved heroin in the state. In 2012, that number increased to 921 cases involving heroin,” Roberts said. “District court cases in 2011 increased from 679 cases to 1,784 in 2012. The single biggest issue is opiate dependency which leads to heroin usage.”

Roberts explained that the brain releases natural endorphins to curb the pain when one sustains an injury. When addicts take exorbitant amounts of opiate-based pain medication it tells the brain to slow down endorphin production and with increasing usage the brain will stop production entirely.

“So that makes normal aches and pains magnified,” Roberts said. “What addicts become during opiate withdrawal is what they call on the street ‘dope sick’ or the ‘super flu’ which can also lead to cold sweats, diarrhea and extreme pain. In order to avoid sickness, an addict will steal money or medication from family members. It’s not because they are high they just want to keep from getting sick.”

Roberts confirmed that most burglary cases are drug related and prescription pill addiction isn’t cheap.

“Heroine has resurfaced because of pain pill addiction,” he said. “It will do to the same thing as the pain medication and stop their withdrawal and it is somewhat cheaper than buying pain medication.

“You can go to Louisville or Cincinnati and buy a gram of heroin, same as the amount of a Sweet and Low packet for about $120 and bring it back to rural areas like Eminence and divide into a tenth of a gram, you can sell each tenth for $40 on the street. I sell three-tenths I have $120 dollars to buy more heroin and seven tenths to use.”

Roberts explained that heroin becomes the cheaper alternative to pill addiction but at a cost.

“The disadvantage is if I go to Cincinnati and buy from my usual dealer, they may ‘stomp’ on it which means they cut with an additive like a brown vitamin tablet and it isn’t as pure. Now you have two grams, instead of one with 50 percent pure heroin and I know exactly how much to mix up.

“If I go up there and can’t find my usual guy, I find a guy that hasn’t been in the business long… and he mixes less of an additive to get his name out there. I fix my usual concoction and it causes me to overdose. The drug relaxes the body and tells my lungs not to breathe and the body starts shutting down. The biggest problem for the heroin addict is it is killing people. The cases have more than doubled from 2011 and 2012 and will increase in 2013.”