Column: Concerns about heroin growing in west metro
The Mound Police Department, along with bordering agencies, is working hard to distinguish the current trend involving teenagers and their drug problem. In recent years the number of kids abusing heroin has grown in the lake area.
We used to see only a few teenagers abusing meth, but meth has been put on the back burner and now more kids are burning through heroin like it is no big deal.
We have spent many personnel hours investigating theft related crimes because these kids are stealing anything they can from their parents or friends’ parents to pawn for drugs. In the lake area police departments, we estimate roughly 60 cases tied to heroin.
Good people are getting their precious gems, family heirlooms, electronics, and tools stolen and pawned. In some cases, these good people report a burglary or theft from their house not always knowing their child’s involvement in the theft or their kids’ involvement in drugs. When we do obtain a good lead or suspect and it ends up being their child, the parents are devastated. In many cases, we identify their child in video surveillance cameras whereas they can’t deny their child’s involvement. Some stolen items are pawned, which we can recover for the families, but so many of these precious family heirlooms are gone, traded on the streets of Minneapolis.
The current trend that we are seeing in the West Metro area concerning heroin use is this: What is typically seen is that a teenager will be introduced to Oxycontin. After the user can no longer afford Oxy, they are introduced to heroin. Heroin is typically bought in Minneapolis. Prior to about six months ago, a user would buy black tar heroin from predominately Hispanic gangs on the south side of Minneapolis and white powder heroin from African-American gangs on the north side. According to users, white heroin is much better than tar heroin. The problem rests with the white heroin usually being “cut,” whereas tar heroin can’t be cut. Therefore, most users would go to the south side and buy from the Hispanic gangs. Just recently, heroin users have really started to buy white heroin from the African-Americans on a more regular basis because of its purity. Most of the users the police have talked to lately are buying from them and are now buying it on both the north side and south side.
White heroin typically comes from the Middle East, which ultimately supports the terrorists financially. Tar heroin is coming from South America or Mexico and is run by Mexican cartels.
Trying to interdict these types of dealers is very challenging to police. Heroin dealers probably have the best system in place to counter every tactic law enforcement has.
As far as the user goes, they often use heroin not to feel good, but in order to not feel sick. When the user goes through withdrawals they get very cold and feel like they have the flu. This is the main reason that users are inclined to steal from anybody and commit burglaries — they just don’t want to feel sick.
Also, when trying to interdict the users, they typically go to Minneapolis every day or close to it to buy heroin. The user will pick up just enough heroin for their fix for the day, drive a couple blocks and use what they bought. This makes it difficult for us to interdict the users from the West Metro area.
The prices for heroin are $100 per gram. Users vary in amount they buy, but it’s typical for them to buy just $20.00 to $40.00 at a time.
Things for parents to look for includes spoons with burn marks, needles, toot straws, tin foil, snip-its (which is a about a 1/2” x 1/2” white waxy paper), track marks on the body, loss of weight, withdrawal symptoms, theft and pawning. There are definitely more symptoms and side effects to look for. If and when a person comes down off heroin, he or she will experience a painful period from detoxing off of the heroin effects. Withdrawal symptoms can include diarrhea, convulsions, vomiting, and uncontrollable body movements.
If you suspect your child is abusing heroin you should consult with your child’s pediatrician immediately. It only takes one try and your child might be the next statistic. The potential for overdose is very concerning. There is not control over the purity of heroin. One time a child may use heroin with a low level of purity and the next time they use it could be a higher level of purity. This leads to overdoses and the potential of death.