I’m sure heroin addicts read the N&O

Well, good news, Wake County (my home) is stepping up it’s war on drugs.  I’m going to be able to sleep so much better at night and let my kids out into the culdesac to play now that I know Wake is allocating a few hundred thousand more a year to drug trafficking.  There’s just so much evidence that stepping up enforcement measures cuts down on drug use 😉. From the N&O:

The Wake County Board of Commissioners in a ceremonial vote unanimously approved a midyear expansion of the sheriff’s drugs and vice unit by adding three investigators, bringing the unit to 14 members.

The vote designates $103,600 in existing funds within the sheriff’s budget to fund the positions for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends in June. The move also allocated $207,000 for the next fiscal year, which starts in July. The Sheriff’s Office is also expected to use $173,343 in federal grants.

Without offering arrest and seizure statistics or producing a report his office referenced in a letter to commissioners, Harrison stressed the importance of the additional officers as he spoke at a Board of Commissioners meeting.

The Sheriff’s Office didn’t present a direct link between recent drug busts and Mexican drug organizations but cited the “Atlanta-Carolinas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area 2014 Threat Assessment” report as a reference.

The Sheriff’s Office, however, didn’t provide the report to The News & Observer, and the U.S. Department of Justice didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry about the document.

On Monday, Harrison promised commissioners they’d see results from their investment.

“If you allow me to have those investigators, we’ll make a dent. We’ll make a big dent,” he said.

“If the public knows we have more people working on drugs, that’s a deterrent,” he added. [emphasis mine]

Commissioners supported Harrison without hesitation.

“This allows us to go after more fish, bigger fish,” Matt Calabria said.

Caroline Sullivan noted a spike in overdoses locally, and Jessica Holmes pointed out that young people are the heaviest users.

“While this is not a pretty conversation to have, it is a critical conversation to have,” Holmes said…

Meanwhile, WakeMed Health and Hospitals says the number of patients needing treatment for heroin overdoses has increased since 2010, when the system treated seven patients.

The WakeMed system treated 21 patients the following year, 39 in 2012, 50 in 2013, 49 in 2014 and 71 last year, according to the hospital’s public relations office.

The additional resources will help the Sheriff’s Office target larger drug trafficking operations and fill a void in enforcement, Harrison said.

We f***ing know how to stop people from dying of overdoses!  It’s called suboxone and naloxone and a medical model of addressing heroin addiction.  There’s pretty much zero evidence that spending more on interdiction is actually going to do anything about it.  Ohh, but now that we get the bigger fish!  Please.  Because there’s never new bigger fish to step in.  Damn do our county commissioners need to watch the Wire (and these are all Democrats– who I am mightily disappointed in– mind you).

Now, if there’s evidence of violence or increased property (or any other kind of crime) due to drug trafficking, then, by all means, I want our local law enforcement to allocate resources and work to stop it.  But the idea that allocating this money towards drug trafficking will “let the public know” and deter drug use is just fanciful.

Ugh, to have better “leaders” and some sanity in our approach towards drugs.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to I’m sure heroin addicts read the N&O

  1. Jon K says:

    Over the holidays, Amazon’s kindle app pushed me a link to their ‘Best Books of 2015’ and offered them at very reduced prices. I was able to get the book Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic
    for both kindle and audible for about 6 bucks.

    The book focuses on two tracks that have combined to fuel the new heroin epidemic. The first is the change in attitude in the late 90’s and early 2000’s in the medical community’s regarding the treatment of acute and chronic pain. Pain control had been something that had been woefully neglected and undertreated for decades. Doctors had been reluctant to even treat terminal cancer patients with enough opiates to control their pain let alone give them to anyone experiencing acute pain or serious chronic pain. This led to a movement to redefine pain as the “5th Vital Sign”, and was adopted by the WHO. On one hand, it was good that doctors were encouraged to reduce pain when possible – after all who wants to endure prolonged unnecessary suffering (I sure do not, and when I cut my eye vacuuming a dusty closet with no eye protection this year I was most assuredly thankful that I was given Vicodin) – but it led to an overcorrection.

    Well-intentioned pain control advocates misused and contorted medical journal articles and other studies to seriously downplay the addiction potential of prolonged opiate use. At the same time, in 1996, Purdue Pharma released Oxycontin. It was believed at that time that the time released formula of Oxycontin would reduce the intense highs and lows of opiate use that lead to addiction. Purdue Pharma spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting Oxycontin to doctors as a pain solution with virtually no potential for abuse when used correctly.

    There were several problems with this. First, Oxycontin’s time released formula was still plenty addictive when used as directed over a long period of time. Second, Oxycontin wasn’t cut with tylenol like other opiates. This meant people could take larger doses without the fear of liver damage that other opiate abuse causes. Third, Purdue didn’t design Oxycontin with any tamper resistant features until the late 2000’s. This meant Oxycontin could be easily crushed for snorting or injecting.

    At the same time a massive influx of black tar heroin–cheap, potent, and originating from one small county on Mexico’s west coast, independent of any drug cartel–assaulted small town and mid-sized cities across the country, driven by a brilliant, almost unbeatable marketing and distribution system. Quite simply, these people figured out how to set up a corporate retail supply chain for black tar heroin. They must have read The World Is Flat because they figured out that if they kept inventories low they would not be a juicy target for law enforcement. They also figured out that customer service and quality would drive demand.

    Basically they set up Pizza Hut for heroin. They come into an area, rent an apartment, buy some cheap used cars, and hire drivers for delivery. The non-using drivers, usually very poor Mexican nationals, are paid a salary, and it is not dependent on how much heroin they deliver. This means the drivers have no incentive to cut the drugs or cheat their customers. To acquire customers is easy: they just go to the nearest methadone clinic and start giving out samples with their phone number. The addict just has to call the number and speak to a dispatcher (sometimes based in Mexico) who tells addict and driver where to meet. Drivers carry the heroin in balloons in their mouths, and if they are pulled over they just swallow it for later recovery. Also, the amount of heroin they carry is always low enough that they are just deported rather than imprisoned anyway. This means the networks are almost impossible to shut down. If you take down a driver he will be replaced with another one the next day. As I said, they are using 21st century supply-chain management as efficiently as Walmart or Amazon does. They are also able to ensure consistently quality product – their black tar is almost always 80-90% pure – and they sell it cheaply for around 5 and 10 dollars a hit.

    How a couple hundred thousand dollars and a few more enforcement officers can dent a system like that is a mystery. Our sheriff has to be intelligent enough to know this, so this is simply him doing what the War on Drugs always does. Law enforcement will always be looking for ways to increase their funding and operations, and they don’t really care if it does anything to actually solve the problem. As long as they get their statistics and asset forfeitures they can say they are fighting hard. Unless you actually make an effort to find out what is going on, their statements make it sound like they are actually accomplishing something worthwhile. If you study what is going on just a little bit you see how wasteful and ineffective these law enforcement operations actually are. They do nothing to address what is fueling the problem, and that is Americans demand opiates. Their efforts to address the supply are futile and are only good for public statements, PR, and increasing their funding.

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