, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 10, 2014

Dying for a fix

Local police react to threat of fentanyl-laced heroin


Last weekend, Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died from an apparent overdose in his Manhattan apartment.

Overdoses underscore diverse user group

Police said users include the unemployed, students, mothers with children in tow and professionals in business attire.

“There is no face of a heroin user,” said Methuen police Lt. Kevin Mahoney.

On Thursday, 30 police officers, troopers and agents met in Lawrence and then split into four teams. The teams then headed to “hot areas,” where drug use or sales were reported or seen previously by police.

Mahoney said many of these areas are parking lots in shopping plazas, especially those with quick highway access for heroin buyers and sellers.

Some businesses have been forced to close their restrooms to the public after addicts repeatedly used them to shoot up. Some junkies even flush hypodermic needles down toilets at coffee shops and fast food restaurants, resulting in costly plumbing repairs for the business owners, Mahoney said.

Just 40 minutes after the operation started, police came upon a heroin deal at Sunray and Highlawn streets on Prospect Hill in Lawrence. A Rowley man was driving a Mercury Mountaineer slowly on Prospect Street near Ferry Street, raising police suspicions.

A short time later, after the Mountaineer parked on Sunray Street, a Lawrence man driving a Nissan Altima parked across the street. The driver got out and got in the back seat of the Mountaineer. Police soon recovered “several baggie twists of heroin” and placed both drivers, along with a passenger in the Mountaineer, under arrest, according to a report by Trooper Jason Conant.

Just before 6 p.m., detectives arrested five people using heroin in two separate cars parked at McDonald’s on Broadway in Lawrence. “It should be noted that this particular area has been a common meeting place for both drug dealers and drug users,’” Lawrence Detective Carmen Purpora wrote in his report.

Thursday’s operation was considered by police to be a “great success.”

Solomon said police were able to gather intelligence for drug investigations in the future, heighten public perception of the overdose issue and work together with outside departments and agencies. “It’s a win-win everywhere,” he said.

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