EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 9, 2014

Dying for a fix

Local police react to threat of fentanyl-laced heroin Potent drug feared to be cause of many overdoses


Thirty arrests were made that day in Lawrence, Methuen and Haverhill. Those charged come from Lawrence and Methuen. Others are from Somerville and Medford, Pelham and North Conway, N.H. and Fryeburg, Maine, police said.

Detectives keeping a lookout on a McDonald’s restaurant parking lot, discovered five people shooting and snorting heroin in two separate cars.

Another time, two men in different cars met on Sunray Street, off Ferry Street in the Lawrence’s Prospect Hill neighborhood, for an early afternoon hand-to-hand exchange of heroin.

“We want them to see a heavy police presence ... We want them to stop coming here to buy drugs,” said Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon.

In Methuen, 33 heroin overdoses were recorded since November, including 14 in January and one already this month, Solomon said. Two weeks ago, a local mother shot up in a gas station bathroom and overdosed. Police found her children in her mini-van parked outside, Solomon said.

“The increase in heroin use is not staggering but the increase in overdoses is,” said Solomon, who was among a group of local chiefs who met on Jan. 30 at the Andover Public Safety Center to discuss the uptick in heroin overdoses locally.

At that meeting, the chiefs decided to arrange the Thursday’s high intensity “displacement” operation in the hopes of slowing down heroin sales and averting the overdoses.

While the tainted heroin is being sold and used, police are uncertain how it arrived in the area and who the top supplier is. Heroin sells in the area for $60 to $80 per gram, with a half gram running at about $40. Detectives said the more heroin you buy often results in a reduction in price.

In addition to Methuen, heroin overdoses were reported recently in Haverhill, Salisbury and Portsmouth. After a Jan. 27 overdose in Salem, N.H., a Haverhill woman, age 20, remains in critical condition.

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