“Parents need to speak with their kids about substance abuse as they’re growing up,” Pettigrew said. “They need to speak about smoking, drinking, marijuana and drugs abuse. It’s a constant conversation they need to have.”
Questions arise as to where the drug is coming from and why it’s in local neighborhoods.
The DEA works to identify and eliminate the large drug suppliers, and according to Pettigrew most of the heroin seen in the United States originates in South America and comes into this country via Mexico. Once it’s made its way to the East Coast, he said, it often comes north on main travel corridors — like Interstate 95 — into New York City and other large urban centers like Boston.
It filters to smaller cities, like Lawrence, Lowell, Manchester, N.H., or Burlington, Vt., he said, and finds its way into suburban and rural communities and neighborhoods.
In Seabrook, where there were two heroin overdoses within two hours in mid-January, police Sgt. Brett Walker said most of the drug supply is provided by user/dealers. The scenario has users traveling to Massachusetts and buying drugs, he said, then using what they need and selling the rest to support their habit.
Walker said during his years as a member of the AG’s Drug Task Force, he saw New Hampshire border communities, like Seabrook, Salem, Pelham and Plaistow, as easily accessed by user/dealers from suppliers from Boston, Lawrence and Haverhill.
N.H. State Police Lt. Christopher Vetter, commander of Troop A, which patrols much of the southern state highway system, said Interstate 95 is a corridor traveled frequently by drug purchasers. And the traffic route is “usually heading north,” he said.
“I don’t know if we’re seeing more heroin, but we’re seeing a lot,” Vetter said. “We made 40 heroin arrests alone in 2013, and some were of significant quantity. One was more than 700 bags.”