CLAYTON — The Montgomery County Drug-Free Coalition, a local non-profit whose goal is to promote a drug-free community by increasing public awareness of the harmful effects of heroin, opiates, and illegal prescription drugs, hosted a “Right Time, Right Place” Town Hall on Monday, October 23 at the Salem Church of God
Montgomery County Chief Deputy Rob Streck, Director of the Montgomery County Drug – Free Coalition Bruce Langos and Sheriff Phil Plummer, addressed the magnitude of the opiate problem in the county, what law enforcement is doing to help reduce the supply of opiates, and discussed how residents can help combat the epidemic.
Streck started the discussion by detailing issues related to epidemic. The picture he painted was not pleasant, but it is the reality the sheriff’s office has to deal with day-in and day-out.
“This morning there were 46 inmates in the county jail detoxing from opiate withdrawal,” Streck noted. “When I say detoxing in the county jail, I mean curled up in the fetal position with things coming out of each end and it is painful for them. We medicate them a little bit to make them feel better and we watch them, but it’s a bad way to detox. We are obviously the largest detox center in Montgomery County.”
He also pointed out that deputies have to worry about people trying to bring drugs into the jail.
“We have people come in all the time with drugs hidden in them and we are not allowed to check certain areas,” he stated.
Part of the problem is that people go to court knowing that they are going to be sentenced to stay in jail for 30 to 90 days and they go into a restroom and shoot up and we find them in there,” Streck said.
The overdose problem affects people from all walks of life, all races and all ages. Streck pointed out that Sheriff Plummer became fed up with his road patrol deputies having to constantly deal with people overdosing, but no one knew how to deal with the issue as it escalated out of control.
Drug cartels in Mexico, China and Afghanistan are fueling the problem by pumping drugs into the Miami Valley.
Streck noted that he has been on the job 22 years and is not naïve, but if someone had told him three years ago that he would be spending nights and weekends talking about Mexican drug cartels in Montgomery County at public meetings he would have laughed at you.
“They come to town, they bring people to town and they bring their product,” Streck said. “They call local gang members in who come get the product and distribute it, then bring the money back to the Mexican drug cartels and then they ship the money down to Mexico… $64 billion a year. Billion with a B that Mexico makes off the United States in illegal drug trade.”
He detailed the Sinaloa Cartel that is affecting Montgomery County. They place people in local hotels or drug houses where the drugs are packaged, sent out and collect the money. The Sinaloa Cartel makes $6 billion a year from Montgomery County.
“Why are they here? There are a lot of reasons. Some are controversial, some not so controversial,” Streck stated. “The problem is they are here. We are a source city now. Montgomery County and the city of Dayton is a source city, which means this is where you come to buy heroin cheap.”
In the Dayton area a gel capsule of heroin sells for $5 per cap whereas in other cities it costs $20 per cap. Drug dealers got tired of putting heroin in plastic bags so they went to a health food supplier and bought a boat load of gel capsules. Streck noted that if a drug bust is made in Los Angeles County with heroin in gel caps, authorities know it came from Montgomery County.
Several years ago the government instructed law enforcement to start cracking down on pill mills where people could buy large quantities of prescription pain killers cheap.
“We did a good job of shutting those places down,” Streck said. “The problem is, when we shut them down people didn’t have anywhere to go.
Marijuana used to be the number one money maker for the Mexican drug cartels, but the cartels were busy trying to figure out what the next drug demand would become. As marijuana became legal in various parts of the country law enforcement began to back off on arrests related to its use because the perception became that nobody cared whether or not someone was using marijuana.
Marijuana became easier to get and to grow, so the need to have it supplied by cartels declined so the cartels began sending heroin into the U.S. Heroin has been replaced by Fentanyl, which is more potent.
“The problem is drug dealers are scumbags. Scumbags don’t care about their clients,” Struck stressed. “All they care about is money.”
Dealers started cutting heroin with other substances to turn one kilo into five kilos. Fentanyl is a legal medicine and is now the main drug passed off as heroin. Heroin is three to five times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine. As Fentanyl began being passed off as heroin that is when the overdose deaths really started to increase.
“People didn’t know what they were putting into their bodies and they were overdosing,” Streck said.
The new nightmare law enforcement is dealing with is Carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer and is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. A few grains of this drug can make much more “heroin” than Fentanyl and so the drug cartels have found a new way to maximize their profits at the expense of human lives.
“It is now a brain disease. These drugs affect your brain’s pleasure sensors,” Streck explained. “I am by no means a doctor. I am a cop that can write a report, run and chase and cuss. That’s it. But, I do understand when people tell me that being on a lake in a boat with your family is the most fun someone can have, but after a couple of times of abusing opiates your pleasure sensors change drastically so that no longer does nothing for you. All your brain can do is tell you that you need another fix.”
These and other issues were discussed in depth.
Overdose deaths have skyrocketed. As more potent forms of heroin hit the streets and people are not aware of its potency, the deaths from overdoses increase. Langos detailed these death rates. In 2013 when Fentanyl became more dominant the death rates from unintentional overdoses increased. Montgomery County leads all 88 counties in the state in the number of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people. Cuyahoga County is the second highest.
In 2016 there were 1,705 overdoses in Montgomery County. As of October 23, 2017 there were 3,284 overdoses. The death rate from overdoses in 2015 was 259, in 2016 349 and so far this year it is 523, according to Langos.
He also provided a chart detailing deaths and overdoses by jurisdiction. The entire presentation was an eye opener.
Information was also supplied on how people can get involved to fight the epidemic. Membership is free to the Montgomery County Drug – Free Coalition and is open to any person or organization that is interested in supporting a drug – free community. Membership applications are available at www.mcdrugfree.org. All memberships will be granted upon majority vote of the governing board of the coalition.
Donations to help combat the drug epidemic are also accepted and welcomed. Visit [email protected] or call (937) 985-2420.