EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 13, 2014

He's declaring war on heroin

New Boston FBI director offers support in local drug battle

Along with terrorism, corruption and organized crime, a drug epidemic raging locally has the attention of the newest leader of the Boston office of the FBI.

“Heroin is out of control,” said Vincent Lisi, the special agent in charge of the Boston division of the FBI, considered one of the 10 busiest FBI offices in the country.

Lisi is a longtime gang and drug investigator in the Washington, D.C., field office. He said he is well aware of the role gangs and drugs play together and the scourge they can bring to communities.

From speaking with area police chiefs, Lisi said he’s heard plenty about repeat heroin overdoses, overdoses of heroin laced with the prescription painkiller fentanyl, and addicts being revived over and over with narcan, a drug that reverses overdose effects. Nationally, heroin use is spiking at an alarming rate — a problem mirrored in the region.

“We’ve got to do something about it,” Lisi said. “We can’t arrest our way out of the problem.”

In an interview with The Eagle-Tribune last week, Lisi, who took over the FBI Boston office nine months ago, said he wants his agents to work locally with police agencies and community groups to combat the heroin problem.

“This is absolutely welcome news. We welcome as many agencies as we can have,’’ said Methuen police Chief Joseph Solomon, who was the driving force behind a regional heroin raid in February. “The fight is on the street.’

Solomon noted the FBI has “vast resources.”

Some 30 arrests were made during the February heroin sweep, which was aided by members of the FBI gang task force.

Phil Lahey, a Methuen father leading a local heroin awareness task force, was also happy to hear Lisi’s message. Lahey said he’s encouraged that law enforcement agencies see heroin use as a community problem — not just a criminal issue.

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