Richardson: Phillip Seymour Hoffman death a reminder heroin is rampant - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

Richardson: Phillip Seymour Hoffman death a reminder heroin is rampant

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at bill.richardson@cox.net.

Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 11:35 am

It’s back.

Actually, it was never gone.

I’m talking about heroin. The drug of choice for a growing number of people and I’m not just talking your poor white, Latin or African-American drug addict that’s the favorite portrayal for a thieving heroin shooting junkie.

The recent heroin overdose death of Philip Seymour Hoffman is an everyday occurrence, you just don't hear about it. Anyway, who really cares about a dead junkie except for maybe their family?

Following Hoffman’s death The U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration told the Los Angeles Times, "It’s reached epidemic proportions here in the United States,” referring to heroin use. The DEA attributes “the problem to a surge in heroin crossing the nation's southwestern border, where soaring seizures of the drug are a sign of soaring smuggling operations. In 2008, the DEA reported seizing 559 kilograms of heroin at the southwestern border; that more than tripled to 1,855 kilograms in 2012.”

Its no secret Arizona’s under patrolled highway system is a huge part of America’s heroin highway and the drug cartels supply chain that supplies addicts nationwide.

Heroin is flooding into the mainstream following the growing addiction to prescription pain- killers. Cheaper, more powerful, extra plentiful and a marketing and delivery network that would make the nation’s biggest businesses green with envy and its pretty clear to see heroin is going to be increasingly popular and contribute to serious crime and human misery.

In talking with police in the East Valley they tell me heroin is “everywhere.” From the barrio, to the housing projects to the to the big homes where the wealthy upper crust live in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale Tempe and all over Arizona, heroin supply and demand is alive and well.

While Arizona has made it difficult to buy a pack of over the counter cold medicine for fear an honest citizen might make meth during flu and cold season, the efforts to curb the transportation, sale and use of heroin are barely visible on the radar. The once powerful and successful counter-narcotics effort run by the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigations Division has been neutered with the reduction of the division by hundreds of detectives and the agencies failure to maintain a statewide criminal intelligence collection, analysis and sharing system.

I chuckle while some police agencies still chase penny-ante marijuana dealers instead of going after hard drugs.

As the restructuring of Arizona Child Protective Services and human trafficking gets all of the attention and political steam thanks to headlines and interest of the influential, Arizona’s dirty little secret of its serious problem with crime and heroin isn’t talked about. How many thousands of cases of child abuse and neglect and young girls and boys being sold for sex have links to heroin use and sales? Heroin has always been one of the drugs of choice to make the pain of abuse and of being sold for sex go away. Heroin use is also the driving force in robberies, burglaries and identity thefts and any number of other serious crimes that produce cash to buy heroin with.

If history is any indicator the heroin problem in Arizona will continue to grow and the state’s lack of effort to go after the heroin problem will stay the same until someone who is related to one of the wealthy and powerful is found dead with a needle in their arm and their survivors raise holly hell for the state’s failure to take the heroin problem seriously and to get off their behinds and take action.

Until then I’ll continue to believe pretty much no one, especially the State of Arizona, really cares about a dead junkie.

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