Local and State Info
Westmoreland County's war on heroin has drawn the attention of Congress.
Some area front-line soldiers will testify today before a U.S. House
Government Reform subcommittee in Washington on how the deadly narcotic has
become fatally popular among suburban teenagers.
County Detective Tony Marcocci, along with his partner, Detective Terry
Kuhns, and Latrobe police Detective Ray Dupilka, will join a panel of law
enforcement officials from Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York invited to
address the subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources.
The subcommittee is examining national efforts to block heroin supplies at
their source: Colombia, South America.
"( Colombian ) heroin is the purest, most addictive and deadly heroin
produced anywhere in the world," said Government Reform Committee Chairman
Dan Burton, a Republican congressman from Indiana. "With a single dose
costing as little as $4 and having purity levels as high as 93 percent,
this is a problem that demands the attention of Congress."
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Colombian drug traffickers
began sending increasing amounts of heroin to the United States in the late
1990s. The crisis has since reached epidemic proportions, with potent
Colombian heroin flooding communities and causing a noticeable rise in
The committee learned that there have been 12 overdose deaths in
Westmoreland County this year. Regionally, and nationally, it reported,
overdose deaths exceed homicides.
Testimony from the officers is expected to include reports on heroin as a
drug of choice for suburban teens -- a development that drew more than 200
concerned parents to a drug summit held by the Elks in Derry Township in
Marcocci, Kuhns and Dupilka spoke at that summit, along with county
District Attorney John Peck, who reported "an unusual number of incidents
of heroin use causing a great deal of concern where you would not expect to
Marcocci has said that he and Kuhns -- both with more than two decades in
narcotics investigations -- have seen heroin "in every little patch town in
Dupilka has worked with the county detectives on a number of major drug
arrests in recent years. His commanding officer, Latrobe police Chief
Charles Huska, credited all three officers.
"I'm really excited for them," Huska said. "They are true professionals and
excellent officers who have done a lot for drug enforcement in this community."
The recent heroin epidemic "is a sad situation," he added.
While city police and other law enforcement agencies have taken proactive,
preventative approaches through such programs as the recent summit, Huska
said they also plan to continue aggressive enforcement tactics, as well.
"We'll just keep making arrests and making arrests and going after the
dealers," he said.
In the meantime, the congressional subcommittee is examining national
efforts to cut off the drug's supply.
The hearing today -- titled "America's Heroin Crisis, Colombian Heroin, and
How We Can Improve Plan Colombia" -- will convene at 11 a.m. in Room 2154
of the Rayburn House Office Building.
"Plan Colombia" was devised in 1999 to halt heroin importation to the
United States by destroying opium poppy plants in South America. The plants
produce a juice from which the narcotic drug is processed. Heroin can be
snorted, smoked or injected.
Despite recommendations from U.S. and Colombian law enforcement officials,
resources have shifted to attacking coca plants, which are used to make
cocaine, causing eradication missions to Columbia's poppy fields to be
Adrian Plesha, a Greensburg native who works as an aide to U.S. Rep. Pete
Sessions, a Texas Republican, said he contacted Marcocci to testify at the
hearing after reading about Westmoreland County's drug woes in an article
in the Miami Herald.
"I was literally in shock that our county, where I grew up, was cited as an
example," Plesha said.
Other witnesses to testify include officials with the Drug Enforcement
Administration, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, the
Portland, Maine, and Howard County, Md., police departments and several
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager
Pubdate: Thu, 12 Dec 2002
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2002 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Dwayne Pickels, Tribune Review
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/heroin.htm (Heroin)