Posted: 12/17/2009 2:16:02 PM EDT
+1 for cracking down on this and trying to get this crap off the streets!
By Josh White
The Washington Post
December 17, 2009
WASHINGTON — Nearly 40 people have been arrested across Northern Virginia this week on charges of dealing heroin and prescription narcotics as part of a large-scale investigation to battle what officials said is a dramatic increase in drug use among young people in the Washington suburbs.
The sting targeted dealers ranging from 18 to 54 years old, many of whom sold large amounts of heroin and pills to high school students and young adults in Prince William and western Fairfax counties. Police said it was "alarmingly easy" to find and buy the drugs in recent suburban stings in homes, retail store bathrooms, gyms, grocery stores and pharmacies.
The operation has resulted in 38 arrests, police said. It comes after a large federal investigation in Northern Virginia that targeted a group of young heroin users and dealers in Fairfax County and a series of overdose deaths in the Manassas area. Police across the region said use of heroin and powerful prescription pills among young adults has risen significantly in the past year.
The recent overdose deaths in Prince William of Matthew Mittong and Mindy Weakley, both 26, played a large role in prompting police to infiltrate a group of dealers who primarily sell heroin bought in Baltimore and Washington D.C., as well as prescription drugs containing the strong painkillers oxycodone and methadone.
"It was much more prevalent than even we thought it would be," said Prince William 1st Sgt. Dan Hess, who is leading the investigation. "We understood there was a problem with prescription drugs. But what we didn't understand was how young these kids were getting involved and transitioning to heroin."
Hess said police have found large numbers of local high school students, some as young as 15, who were regularly buying and using opiate pills before switching to heroin because it is cheaper and more accessible.
Police are concerned that teenagers are trying drugs such as Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin at parties thinking that because a doctor prescribes them they must be safe. Soon, Hess said, those teenagers are increasing their doses and later moving to heroin. "That false sense that it is OK can lead to very bad things very quickly," Hess said. "Before long, they're on the corner buying heroin. It's a sad transition into the abyss."
Weakley's path to addiction closely followed that script. An excellent student who graduated from Brentsville High School at 16, Weakley went on to James Madison University, receiving her degree in 2006, and became a nurse. Weakley died three years later, in September, after overdosing in Manassas on a concoction of drugs with one of her dealers.
Weakley's death was one of several that caught the attention of authorities and came just six months after Mittong, her boyfriend, died similarly.
Across Virginia, the use of prescription drugs and heroin has led to a significant increase in overdose deaths, according to newly released data for 2008 from the Virginia medical examiner's office. The office reported a 91 percent increase in such deaths, from 384 to 735, from 1999 to 2008. In 2008, heroin and prescription narcotics accounted for at least 71 percent of all overdose deaths in Virginia.
Prince William police said they will continue to target the sources of such drugs and are working with federal authorities to unearth fraudulent prescription practices. Hess said one of the most striking elements of the investigation is that confidential informants were so easily able to lead them to more drugs that on some nights "there was no end in sight."
"This is one of the most alarming trends that we've seen in terms of drug abuse," Hess said. "We need people to realize that this could be going on with their children, in their homes. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a death or a near-death for there to be a wake-up call, and by then it's way too late."
thought this would be about the folks on capital hill. cause some of the shit they do they have to be smoking crack.
good for them. iv'e seen a huge increase in the amount of heroin and meth around here.. its pretty sad but i have NO pitty on those who get caught up in it. i see it as natural selection.
Went through Woodson HS myself in Fairfax county.... Rich kids with Mommies and Daddies who spend more time at work than at home = drug use. I turned down more illegal stuff growing up in a small, suburban NOVA neighborhood than most Mexican cartels see in a year.
Fortunately I already had an EBR and horsepower addiction to keep me busy and steal my money.
You mean they yanked a bunch of officers off the "Naked Kitchen Coffee Offenders" Task Force to catch some REAL criminals???
It's confirmed. Hell hath frozen over (nobody tell LaRue) - likely by that Noreaster that just went through. This also yields substantially strong evidence to the argument that Washington DC is, indeed, hell.