A list of 146 teenagers linked to what authorities called a "heroin ring" targeting Scottsdale high school students had only three students suspected of using heroin.
Thirty-two teenagers suspected of using heroin were not current students, according to the list released last month by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
The eight-month investigation by the sheriff’s office was punctuated by the August announcement of the ring, shocking Scottsdale residents and educators. Eleven Mexican nationals were arrested on suspicion of selling heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine and prescription pills.
Most of the teenagers on the list were recent graduates or had dropped out of high schools in Scottsdale and elsewhere in the Valley. The majority — about 100 — were classified by the sheriff’s office as "using marijuana" and not heroin, while another 30 were listed as "using cocaine."
"The thrust of our investigation was heroin because of the (illegal immigrants) who came here selling heroin," said Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The sheriff added that he feared community members would grow complacent now that the "big operation" was concluded.
Eight of the teens were arrested on suspicion of attempting to buy narcotics, while seven adults were arrested in connection with drug-related offenses, said sheriff’s Sgt. Travis Anglin. Sheriff’s officials went door to door March 19-20 to alert hundreds of parents that their children may be involved with drugs.
The names were based on information from informants, officials said. But not all those on the list were buying the drugs from the suspects, Arpaio said.
Russ Warrington, a prevention specialist with the Scottsdale Prevention Institute, works at Arcadia, Coronado and Chaparral high schools. Though the heroin problem has gone in waves — its most recent resurgence was in the mid-1990s — alcohol and marijuana have remained the top drug problems, Warrington said.