Crackdown on heroin continues in Snohomish

SNOHOMISH — Police in Snohomish are continuing to crack down on heroin.

Since apprehending a dozen suspected dealers in March and April, officers in the town of 9,200 have arrested seven other people for investigation o

f selling smack.

Police said they aren’t letting up and will continue targeting local drug traffickers.

“We are starting to hear from some of the dealers that they really don’t want to come to Snohomish,” detective Dave Fontenot said.

The detective said he doesn’t believe Snohomish has any more of a heroin problem than other cities.

It has, however, chosen to shine a bright light on the issue with aggressive enforcement, he said. Police believe that by attacking the heroin problem they also can reduce burglaries, thefts and car break-ins. Those property crimes often are committed to pay for drugs.

As was the case in the earlier arrests, most of the suspects in recent months have been in their early 20s. Many grew up and attended schools in Snohomish.

Heroin’s growing prevalence today can be attributed to a rise of prescription drug abuse that began in the 1990s, local drug treatment experts said. That’s when many young people began using OxyContin, a powerful synthetic opiate, as a recreational drug.

Many users moved on to heroin, which was cheaper and more accessible.

A year ago, the manufacturers of OxyContin changed the formula to make it more difficult to be burned and smoked for a quick high.

That led to still more addicts turning to heroin as a substitute.

Before the wave of arrests earlier this year, detectives Fontenot and detective Kendra Conley posted photos and names of suspected heroin dealers on a whiteboard in their office.

Those photos have been removed and replaced with new suspects.

The arrests are more than a matter of trying to reduce the flow of heroin and related crimes in Snohomish, Fontenot said. Police are hoping that heroin users will face their addictions and make changes in their lives.

“For Kendra and me, it’s so important to us that they get some help,” he said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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