Heroin, meth top officials’ concerns

TUPELO – One is new to the area and the other seems like it’s getting worse.
Heroin and crystal meth are drugs authorities say they are watching closely, according to Northeast Mississippi Narcotics Unit Commander Marvis Bostick. Bostick said he started to notice heroin popping up in the area a couple of years ago, and it hasn’t disappeared.
“Years ago we’d see single-digit arrests for heroin in a year and now those are up to double digits,” he said. “There is a certain group that are dealing with the drug, so it’s here. Wherever there is a demand for a drug, that demand will be met by someone and that’s what we’re seeing.”
Because heroin is what Bostick calls a dead-end drug, which means chances of breaking addiction are very slim, he said the drug is dangerous to the community. According to the Drug Rehabilitation Treatment Center, heroin is the second most addictive drug and is only second to nicotine. Statistics show that the average heroin addict will stop and start detox 10 to 25 times in his or her lifetime, relapsing to heroin use every time. A person who uses the drug for the first time will more than likely be addicted to its effects.
Because of the way it’s used, it’s also dangerous for narcotics agents.
“It’s injected with needles and that provides a different problem for us all together,” said Bostick. “You’re dealing with blood and those sorts of risks now, on top of dealing with people who are addicted to it. Our awareness is definitely heightened when it comes to dealing with this drug.”
Even though meth and cocaine can be injected, they’re both usually smoked.
Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Agent Capt. Bob Poe said the drug is popping up all over the state in small amounts. He said authorities are only seeing dosage amounts of it, less than a gram at a time. A gram of heroin costs about $25 and the same amount of meth costs $100. Poe said most of the people who use heroin previously used morphine.
It is unclear where the heroin is being brought in from, said Bostick, but it’s mostly seen in cities like Chicago and Memphis.
Although heroin seems to be the new drug on the block, meth still reigns supreme in the Northeast Mississippi drug community. Bostick said the unit has far exceeded its projected goals for meth-related cases this year and a big part of the problem is the new shake and bake style of manufacturing it. The unit projected to deal with about 450 cases in 2009 but as of August, they had already worked 636 cases. Bostick said a legislative change may be the only way to slow down the production of the drug.
“Before the 2005 law restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine, we saw a lot of larger groups of people getting together and manufacturing meth,” said Bostick. But now, they have adapted to the law. The law only allows for the purchase of small amounts and with the shake and bake method you only need a small amount to make it. The only way I can see it being reduced is to decrease the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be purchased further or make it available by prescription only.”
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson agrees with Bostick, saying the shake and bake method is making it easier for non-trained drug makers to manufacture meth.

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal