, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 4, 2013

More progress in heroin battle

Police to continue use of informants, undercover officers to catch dealers


Police say a side-effect to the easy purchase of heroin is the number of housebreaks, car breaks and burglaries committed by addicts looking to fund their habit. Earlier this week, a husband and wife living at a Salisbury motel pleaded guilty to breaking into empty vacation homes over the winter, stealing enough valuables to feed their drug habits.

In Amesbury recently, a mother walked into a Town Park bathroom only to find a heroin user slumped on the ground in the midst of a drug overdose. The victim, a 40-year-old woman, recovered after paramedics administered Narcan, also known as naloxone, to treat opiate or heroin overdoses.

Police in Amesbury, Newburyport and Salisbury have noticed a dramatic uptick in recent years in the number of addicts shooting up in public places. Be it restaurant or gas station bathrooms, inside parked cars or town parks, addicts don’t wait until they are in a private place. The urge becomes so overpowering, they’ll shoot up as soon as they have purchased their fix.

Much of the recent gains in the fight against heroin use can be traced to a federal grant that Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury police have been awarded the last two years: the Edward J. Byrne Memorial Justice Grant program. In March, the state’s Executive Officer of Public Safety awarded $63,000 to be split among the communities to aid their drug enforcement efforts. The year before, the communities received a total of $90,000.

“It’s a common goal to get these people off the streets and in jail,” Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler said, referring not only to grant recipients but other neighboring communities.

Newburyport City Marshal Thomas Howard echoed Fowler’s statement, saying his department works very closely with his neighbors sharing resources and information whenever possible.

Despite all the recent gains, Fowler and Howard said there is still plenty of work to be done. Detectives will continue to work with criminal informants to arrange drug buys and undercover officers will be interacting directly with dealers hoping to garner enough evidence to obtain arrest warrants. Howard said part of his goal isn’t merely to disrupt drug sales but to find out more about where the drugs are coming from. When asked, Howard said he couldn’t comment on what his department has learned.

Over in Salisbury, Fowler said his detectives are still pursuing leads based on Abrahams’ arrest and are hoping it leads to more arrests in the upcoming months.

“We will continue to vigorously investigate and arrest anyone selling heroin or any illegal drugs,” Fowler said.

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