, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 10, 2014

Dying for a fix

Local police react to threat of fentanyl-laced heroin


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 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 have been 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 minivan 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 to discuss the uptick in heroin overdoses locally.

At that meeting, the chiefs decided to arrange 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 of $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.

Heroin overdoses were reported recently in Salisbury, Haverhill and Salem, N.H. Portsmouth, Seabrook and other southern New Hampshire communities have also reported drug overdoses connected to tainted heroin. In Portsmouth last month, three people overdosed, with one person dying, within a 24-hour period. The outbreak prompted officials there to issue a warning about tainted heroin.

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