Heroin: Addicted in the Valley Part 1 The Police
LEWISTON, ID —
It’s a disturbing trend all across the country ruining and ending thousands of lives every year. The heroin epidemic has left families, medical staff, and law enforcement scrambling…including right here in our region.
KLEW News Reporter Shannon Moudy joins us now with a special report on Heroin Addition in the Valley.
America’s heroin epidemic is concerning, and therefore widely publicized. And though we live in a relatively small and safe community, we’re not immune to the problem.
I sat down with two of Lewiston’s narcotics detectives who are working to stop the flow of heroin into the valley, a problem they weren’t seeing just a few years ago.
"Lewiston has a drug problem. Just like any other city or state,” said Detective Brett Damon.
That’s the voice of Detective Brett Damon. He’s one of two undercover narcotics detectives I spoke with at the Lewiston Police Department, and we can’t show you their faces.
They tell me the face of addiction in the valley has changed over the last decade where methamphetamine used to be the problem drug, now heroin has now taken over.
"Heroin is definitely a different animal,” said Damon.
There are three different types of heroin, a synthetic and highly addictive opioid. One is China White a powdered form Detective Cody Bloomsburg said is popular on the east coast. A second type Mexican Brown is rarely seen in our area, but this granular brown form is popular in southern Idaho. And a third is what is prevalent here in the LC Valley.
Bloomsburg said, "What we get is black tar heroin. You can inject it or you can smoke it."
Officers with the Quad Cities Drug Task Force see heroin come in mostly from western Washington and the Spokane area, and in recent years it’s exploded.
"Maybe five years ago we would have very few cases a year involving heroin and they would be for very small quantities,” said Dammon. “We still have that now with our users but the quantities have increased and now we're doing investigations involving ounces of heroin instead of just grams."
One gram of heroin is about one of these sugar packets. Two grams here in the valley cost around $300.00 to $400.00. Compare that to an ounce of meth, which goes for around $500.00.
Detective Bloomsburg said, “Quantity-wise, it is a small amount, however what it can do to the community and how many people could get their hands on that two grams once it's spread out, broken down into sale quantities. They sell it by the .1 of a gram. If it is strong heroin, not stepped on a lot, there are some people who are even splitting a tenth between uses."
The lucrative business of selling can become just as addicting as the drug itself but getting caught with heroin has a steep price of its own.
Damon said, "Starting out at two grams, two to seven grams of heroin, if you're convicted you will serve three years in prison. Methamphetamines, to get a mandatory prison sentence, it starts at one ounce or 28 grams."
On January 22, 2016 a 29-year-old Boise second grade teacher Sarah Cowman was arrested on a felony charge of delivering heroin. It highlights another changing face of addiction, something Detective Bloomsburg calls “Disturbing.”
Bloomsburg said, "I hate to say it but it could almost be anyone at this point, to an extent. I'm very surprised to see some of the people we're finding who are addicted to heroin. And I guess what has been the most shocking and concerning to us is the ages of people who are now using heroin."
Lewiston Police report that they are seeing younger and younger people getting hooked on heroin; most of their cases involve people who are between 18 and 30 years old.
“Can't see that unfortunately we're at the end of the line. We're going to be at their door,” said Bloomsburg.
Narcotics officers are working tirelessly to get heroin off the streets. Detectives Dammon and Bloomsburg are just hoping to staunch the ever-flowing bleed. .
Detective Bloomsburg said, "If we don't stick with what we're doing and the course that we're on of pursuing these trafficking cases, we won't be able to keep...to kind of buffer the valley and keep it slowed down."
Lieutenant Budd Hurd, who oversees the narcotics division, said they are considering having Lewiston’s narcotics officers carry Narcan. That’s the drug used to counteract opiates and reverse an overdose, something medics in our area have on them all the time.
Next Wednesday we’ll explore the use of Narcan and the other drug responsible for countless overdose deaths.
"And as if we didn't have enough problems with people overdosing on heroin, now we have this problem to worry about, too."
KLEW News looks at the drug police say is even scarier than heroin, that’s already here in our community. Part two of KLEW’s special report: Heroin Addicted in the Valley airs next Wednesday at 6:00.