Area heroin deaths double in 2012

Published: Friday, March 01, 2013 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Friday, March 01, 2013 @ 12:00 AM


            Numbers show the rise in indictments for heroin over the past 10 years in Montgomery County.
            Lopez, Steve (CMG-WestPalm)

Dayton heroin treatment clinics

Project CURE

  • Location: 1800 N. James H. McGee Blvd.
  • Includes treatment for heroin addiction

The Crosspoints methadone clinic

  • Location: 732 S. Ludlow Street
  • This is on hold after Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 303 into law. The bill prevents such clinics within 500 feet of a school. Chaminade Julienne High School is within that area.

The Veterans Administration operates a federally regulated methadone program

  • Location: VA Hospital campus on West Third Street

Heroin has tightened its grip on Southwest Ohio creating a surge in overdose deaths and doubling seizures of the drug during the past year. Criminal heroin indictments also are rising.

Authorities say Dayton is a heroin hub featuring cheap prices and a meeting place for dealers to distribute the drug to suburbs and smaller towns. The greater Dayton region has seen at least 281 people die from heroin-involved overdoses in less than five years.

“We see it a lot more than we used to,” said Miami Twp. police Det. Michael Siney, adding that ‘caps’ can be as cheap as $5 to $10. “You used to see the marijuana and the occasional crack and pills and stuff like that, but now it’s heroin, heroin, heroin, heroin.”w

Numbers tell part of the story.

  • The Ohio State Highway Patrol seized 34,953 grams of heroin in 2012, more than double the 16,511 grams seized in 2011 and 4.5 times more than the 2009 total of 7,780. In January of 2013, 5,514 grams were seized, more than an 8,000 percent increase from January 2012.
  • The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office said the number of indicted heroin cases jumped from 306 in 2010 to 356 in 2011 to 412 in 2012.
  • The number of drug overdose deaths involving heroin seen by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office shows the increasing toll of those who paid the ultimate price for their addiction. Heroin-related deaths in the multi-county area have risen from 50 in 2011 to 92 in 11 months of 2012, with December’s numbers yet to be calculated.

“When we can go from 50 (dead) in 2011 to close to 100 in 2012,” Montgomery County Coroner Ken Betz said. “I think that clearly indicates what an epidemic heroin is in our community.”

An anonymous participant in the latest Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network report on the Dayton region takes it a step further: “It’s more than an epidemic. It’s a plague. It’s eating away at people.”

NO QUALITY CONTROL

The Dayton report released in June 2012 indicates heroin availability is a 10 on a scale of 0 to 10 while quality can be as high as an 8. But sometimes, the quality is low, and the inconsistency can lead to death.

“Some is like zero purity, some of overdoses are related to too high of purity. It really is pretty much all over the board,” said Miamisburg police Chief John Sedlak, who added that heroin was booked into his evidence room eight times in 2009 but 51 times in 2011. “They’ll usually cut it with any damn thing they can cut it with. Sometimes it’s stuff that won’t essentially hurt you on a single dose and other times it could kill you.”

The Substance Abuse report said the brown powder heroin popular in this region can be cut with baby formula, bouillon cubes, coffee, dog food, green tea tablets, Ramen noodle flavor packets and vitamins, which lowers the purity and thus the danger.

Betz said his office finds people who died of overdoses — two-thirds of whom are male, with a 7-to-1 ratio of whites to blacks — did so nearly instantly after injecting higher-quality heroin.

“When the needle is still there and the paraphernalia is still there and the cooking spoon is still there …” Betz said. “The purity of heroin has been excellent, in a sense, high quality on these overdoses.”

A participant in the Substance Abuse report added: “You never hear of an old heroin addict. They’re either dead, in prison, or quit.”

PRESCRIPTION CRACKDOWN

The Ohio State Highway Patrol has made seizing drugs a higher priority the past couple years. Lt. Anne Ralston said that included enforcement aimed at so-called ‘pill-mills’ that push opiate-based prescription medications. Overall patrol drug arrests were up 24 percent in 2012 from 2011. In the first month of January 2013, the patrol has seized 148 percent more opiate-based prescription pills than in January 2012 (9,000 dosage units compared to 3,629).

As more pills get seized, some users turn to heroin, which is cheaper and can provide a similar experience.

“Heroin is opium,” Ralston said. “People who are addicted to prescription pain killers – the Oxycontins, the Oxycodones – those are opiate-based prescription medications and we have a problem with pills here in Ohio as well and have taken steps to crack down on that.”

In the OSHP’s Piqua district — Montgomery, Preble, Greene, Clark and other counties north of Dayton, there was a 531 percent increase in heroin seizures in 2012 from 2011. In the Wilmington district — Warren, Butler, Clinton and other counties south of Dayton, there was a 7,217 percent increase in heroin seizures in 2012 from 2011.

“That opiate addiction is so strong that if they can’t get the pills, then they’re going to go to the heroin,” said Ralston, who admits the patrol likely is only catching a small percentage of drugs. “It’s an ongoing battle on many fronts.”

CRIME CONCERNS

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. reported that in the past five years the number of convictions for heroin has grown by 40 percent.

“With the steady rise in prescription drug abuse, we have also seen a corresponding rise in the use of heroin, due to its cheaper street price and availability,” Heck said. “We see the devastating effects of heroin use, from ruined lives to overdose deaths. Heroin remains a growing problem in our community.”

Sedlak said Miamisburg police can tell when known drug-related criminals are incarcerated or out since crime fluctuates. “It’s considerable because when you’re fighting the heroin thing, you’re not just fighting pushers coming into your area and resellers and users,” Sedlak said. “You’re fighting a lot of crime that is completely associated with it.”

Siney said Miami Twp. police see the same thing.

“A lot of the heroin addicts are the ones coming over and stealing in the mall, stealing at Walmart, Target and retail (stores) to make money to get their fix,” Siney said. “A lot of them we stop with needles on them,” he said, adding that needles have become the No. 1 criminal drug possession tool.

HIGH AVAILABILITY

One anonymous user from the Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network document said free “testers” of heroin are so prevalent that “you can’t even really drive through Dayton and sit at a (traffic) light without somebody going, ‘Testers. Tester. We got free testers.’ Throwing them in your car, like here, ‘Just get high and come to me.’ ”

“I mean it’s right there. Even if you weren’t a heroin addict, you know what I mean, you’re gonna want to do it because it’s free, and it’s just right in your face.”

Dayton police Lt. Joe Wiesman said heroin has become “the drug of choice” in Dayton and that police haven’t seen the free testers, but he would not be surprised.

“I’m sure that that probably does happen, just like Sam’s Club gives out samples,” Wiesman said. “It’s one of those things that they could give you a little to get you to come back and buy a lot, to them it’s just smart business.”

In Greene County, ACE Task Force Commander Bruce May said heroin houses have popped up in the past few years and that heroin has climbed the list of illicit drug users, with heroin and pills gaining on marijuana and crack cocaine.

The high availability makes it hard for probationers to turn it down, according to Greene County Adult Probation Director Melissa Litteral. “Heroin is a huge problem right now,” said Litteral, noting that 208 people in her probation program tested positive for heroin in 2012. From Jan. 1 to Feb. 11 of 2013, another 25 Greene County probationers tested positive for heroin.

“We have to get these people help,” Siney said. “I’ve dealt with it in my family. It’s hard, even when you seek it out, to get somebody help.”

Oxford court may move or be shut down

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017 @ 7:00 AM

Area I Court in Oxford would be moved to Hamilton or abolished under a proposal by county prosecutor Michael Gmoser (pictured). GREG LYNCH/STAFF

Area I Court in Oxford would be moved to Hamilton or abolished under a proposal by Buter County prosecutor Michael Gmoser, which would force the city into a difficult decision about how and where to have cases tried.

That issue still remains in the future, but a more immediate one also has been raised by Gmoser, who informed city officials his staff would no longer prosecute cases cited under city ordinance beginning in July.

City Manager Doug Elliott told City Council about the prosecutor’s letter at the May 2 meeting and then spoke again on the topic at the May 16 meeting.

“As of July 1, he said his staff would no longer prosecute (offenses charged under) our ordinances. He feels he has no obligation to prosecute them,” Elliott said. “We could cite under state code, not city ordinance but we would lose money. We get half now and it would cost about $40,000 to $50,000 per year. We’re going to need to work this out.”

Gmoser told this news outlet, through research of the current area court system his staff determined “not only do I not have the obligation, we do not have the jurisdiction to prosecute cases under city ordinances.”

He said a consolidation of the area court system would be a cost savings that he has been exploring for a couple years. Gmoser added Oxford is unique because of its collage population that may warrant a municipal or even a mayors court to hear city cases.

In his follow-up report May 16, the city manager told Council he was recommending the city cite offenses under state code where possible which would allow the county prosecutor’s staff to handle Oxford cases but the bigger issue remains of Gmoser’s plan to go to a municipal court scenario and do away with the part-time area courts.

Gmoser’s April 25 letter cited an Ohio Revised Code provision he says prohibits him from prosecuting municipal ordinance cases in area court.

“If Oxford had a municipal court, I could do so by contract. Because Oxford has no municipal court, a remedy by a contract is not available under this statute,” Gmoser wrote to Elliott, saying it would take effect in July. “If this does go into effect, violations will have to be charged under the state code where I do have jurisdiction and the requirement to prosecute and the consequential financial loss to the city.”

The letter outlines a proposal to abolish all three area courts in the county and to establish two municipal courts, one on the east side of the county and the other on the west side of Hamilton, to which Oxford cases could be sent. The city would also have the option — and expense — of establishing its own municipal court.

Elliott told Council merging into that Hamilton court would still have costs and also would require police officers to go there to testify.

Forming a court in Oxford could be an expensive proposition, too, as it likely would require a new location rather than using the Courthouse building on West High Street. Ohio Supreme Court requirements for court security likely would demand that.

Gmoser’s letter also noted the city could return to a mayor’s court as it had for many years before an agreement to have Area I Court hear city cases.

“(W)ith the move to Hamilton, you may wish to consider establishing a mayor’s court to handle all of your ordinance violations leaving the Area court to handle felony cases, domestic violence cases and second-offense OVI cases which cannot be heard in a mayor’s court. A magistrate, clerk staff and your law director acting as prosecutor will be necessary for the operation of that court, but you will have the facility you now rent to the county,” the letter said. “You may also adopt a diversion program. Presently, my diversion program for the Area I Court receives program fees in excess of $80,000 per year with very little administrative expense.”

Gmoser also noted Miami University is a “renewable resource” for that diversion program and that money would help defray the expense of a mayor’s court or municipal court and that the Ohio Supreme Court will share the cost of a part- or full-time municipal court judge, but not a mayor’s court.

Mayor Kate Rousmaniere responded to Elliott’s May 2 comments saying the city first needed to deal with the July 1 deadline for handling prosecution of cases cited under city ordinance and then face the greater question.

“There are reasons to have a municipal court,” she said. “We need to look at that.”

On May 16, the city manager said he would like to see the county’s proposal for changes to the court system and decide from there. Gmoser’s suggestion of merging the area courts was originally made two years ago, Elliott explained but came up again in the April 25 letter he received from the prosecutor.

“(The proposal for a municipal court) is based on savings to the county, but at the expense of the City of Oxford,” Elliott told Council May 16.

Half-hour long pursuit down Ohio 235 ends with pickup in ditch

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 12:28 AM

Multiple state troopers have ended a nearly half-hour long pursuit on Ohio 235 in Clark County, according to dispatchers. 

Dispatchers said troopers were pursuing a pickup truck out of Greene County in the chase that ended just before midnight.

Little is known about what began the pursuit on Ohio 4 around 11:26 p.m., or the man troopers were chasing. 

Dispatchers said the pursuit ended when the man crashed into a ditch on Ohio 235 just inside Clark County.

We are working to learn more in this developing story.

Police: 'Movie money' being used to defraud Florida retailers

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017 @ 1:16 PM

The “money” looks real and feels real, but to the right of Benjamin Franklin’s head, the $100 bill reads, “For motion picture use only.”

Despite the warning, a manager at Forever 21 at the Treasure Coast Square in Jensen Beach was fooled Wednesday by the $100 bill someone used to pay for $93.81 worth of women’s clothing and accessories, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said. It was the fifth recent case of the “movie money” being used at county retailers.

>> Read more trending news

See who’s been booked into the Palm Beach County Jail

Deputies arrested the teenager suspected in the Forever 21 fraud case when managers at another chain store contacted authorities and said he tried to purchase $400 worth of merchandise with the fake bills.

A manager at the Forever 21 store told the Post on Friday that another manager took the counterfeit money. She said the scammers, a young male and  young female who looked to be about 16 or 17 years old, were purchasing items such as a bodysuit, fake eyelashes and an eyelash curler.

She said the bill appeared to be real, aside from the label saying it was for movies only, and she hadn’t seen the “movie money” used previously in the store.

The store has a machine to check for counterfeit money, but it wasn’t working at the time of that purchase, the manager said.

Deputies withheld the name of the teen apprehended in the fraud cases at the mall.

Other cases include using fake $20 bills as well as well as $100s. 

The Sheriff’s Office encouraged retailers in the area to make their employees aware of the fake bills being circulated.

Man shot in hand, leg during large fight in Springfield

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017 @ 10:49 PM

A Springfield man was shot in the hand and leg tonight in the 1800 block of Rutland Avenue in Springfield.

“It originally came in as a large fight,” Sgt. Jeff Williams of the Springfield Police Division said.

Later, the report was updated around 8:30 p.m. that someone had been shot.

The gunshot victim was taken to Springfield Regional Medical Center. His name and age were not released, but his injuries are not life-threatening, Williams said.

It’s not clear whether he was shot twice, or one bullet inflicted both wounds.

Police have identified a suspect, but he is not in custody. Formal charges are expected to be filed, the sergeant said.