Federal and local law enforcement agencies have broken up a large drug trafficking ring that brought heroin from Newark, NJ to the Syracuse area. Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says his office and the Drug Enforcement Agency began investigating the drug ring a year ago. Federal agents seized 10,000 packets of heroin totaling 13 ounces, and 19 people have either been arrested or face arrest in connection to the ring. The alleged leader of the trafficking organization, 41-year-old Calvin Marshall, was one of six arraigned Wednesday morning on conspiracy and drug possession charges, with Marshall accused of being a major trafficker. Eight others have already pleaded guilty, and 7 of them have been sentenced. Police are trying to track down the remaining five. In addition to the heroin, investigators also seized $100,000 in cash and property, and a handgun. DA Fitzpatrick says their investigation doesn’t end with this bust; he says his office will continue to partner with federal, state, and local agencies to stop the influx of heroin into the community. The following individuals were arrested Tuesday in a coordinated raid:
The rise of heroin use around central New York is being seen by those who try and help addicts with drug treatment. Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare will host a free virtual tour on Wednesday. Spokesperson Ronald Wood says there’s no escaping the spike in heroin use, which he calls the most common source of drug abuse in the region.
The death of Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in New York points to a possible link between heroin use and prescription drug abuse. Hoffman’s cause of death has not been confirmed but authorities say both heroin and prescription painkillers were found with his body.
While other states battle rising mortality rates by prescription drug overdose New York State has one of the lowest rates in the nation. A report on prescription drug abuse from Trust for America’s Health says that New York has the sixth lowest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States. Since 1999, these rates have doubled in 29 states, tripled in ten and quadrupled in four. Prescription drug related deaths now outnumber those from cocaine and heroin combined.