Pubdate: Mon, 14 May 2012
Source: Summit Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2012 Summit Daily News
Author: Caddie Nath


Authorities: Pure form of the drug may be coming from Mexico

A recent upswing in the number of heroin overdoses in Summit County
may be the result of a purer batch of the drug circulating here,
authorities say.

At least six people this year have been hospitalized after overdosing
on heroin.

Local officials also suspect a recent suicide may have been
heroin-related. The individual, who hung himself, was known to have
used the drug. Toxicology results are not yet available to determine
whether there was heroin in his system at the time he died.

Authorities speculate a purer form of heroin, possibly from Mexico,
may be circulating in Summit County.

"We have people working on this effort to try to find the source,"
Summit County Sheriff John Minor said. "We need the public's help in
trying to figure out who's bringing it into our community."

There have only been two deaths resulting from heroin overdoses in the
last 10 years, according to the Summit County Coroner's Office. Minor
estimated it's been years since his office has seen a heroin overdose.

"Why are we seeing more? We live on the I-70 corridor for one," Summit
County Coroner Joanne Richardson stated in a recent email.

Smoking the drug seems to have become a more popular method of
administration, she said. Roughly half of the six overdose cases this
year appear to have smoked the drug, while the other half injected

Local law enforcement is working to locate the source of what might be
a more potent batch of heroin, but the investigation is more difficult
without the help of the now-defunct Summit County Drug Task Force.

"We don't have the intelligence gathering that we used to have," Minor
said. "With the drug task force we had a pulse on the drug community
and what was going on. We're just purely reactionary now."

The task force was dissolved in 2010, when the state Justice
Assistance Grants program, one of the organization's major funding
sources, cut it off to refocus the money on rehabilitation and
prevention efforts.

Local governments also contributed to the task force, which once
staffed two full-time agents and a part-time administrative employee,
but couldn't afford to keep the organization running after the state
money was lost.

Law-enforcement officials said without the task force, they are
relying on the public to help them track down the source of the heroin.

"As in any drug issue, someone knows something about the person who's
bringing this stuff into our community," Minor said. "We have plenty
of resources up here to help people, but we want the person who's
(distributing) it to be held accountable."

Anyone with information should contact their local law-enforcement agency.
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