Heroin

Members of the St. Louis Regional Heroin Initiative flank posters listing those arrested for heroin-related charges Wednesday, June 10, 2015 in the St. Charles City Police Department.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 50 heroin traffickers have been arrested for crimes committed in St. Charles County. Most were arrested in a 30-hour period, bringing a swift conclusion to a ten-month collaborative investigation.

Since last fall state, local and federal authorities have been working together to bring about the arrests, representing what the head of the St. Louis region’s Drug Enforcement Agency described as a more proactive partnership than past collaborations.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

There’s a new collaborative effort underway to slow down the St. Louis region’s heroin epidemic.

Spearheaded by the St. Louis chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the plan focuses on using innovative ways to increase awareness about the problem while partnering with legislators, law enforcement and doctors to save lives and reduce access to opiates—both heroin and prescription painkillers.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

St. Louis has a heroin problem. New attention was brought to that problem during the Super Bowl, when the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse–St. Louis bought local airtime for a one-minute ad.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

With hundreds of people in the greater St. Louis region dying each year from heroin overdoses, the St. Louis County Police Department is launching a new education initiative to raise public awareness of the drug's dangers.

The department's new heroin initiative Detective Casey Lambert said her role is to talk to people across the county, of all ages, about heroin - what it does to the body, why it's so dangerous, and how to recognize signs of addiction.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse – St. Louis is airing an anti-heroin ad (still shot shown) locally during the Super Bowl this Sunday.
Courtesy National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse – St. Louis Area

Among the much-anticipated Super Bowl commercials airing Sunday will be an anti-heroin ad created by a St. Louis area non-profit and a local ad agency.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse–St. Louis Area created the ad with the help of Schupp Consulting and local director Scott Ferguson to bring attention the region's growing heroin problem.

Heroin initiative detective said many teens are no longer afraid to take heroin because it now can be smoked or snorted rather than injected, eliminating the need for needles.
Wikimedia Commons

Missouri state Rep. Dave Hinson has seen first-hand what a lifesaver a heroin antidote can be.

Hinson, R-St. Clair, is a paramedic based in north St. Louis County. Just recently, he said, he used the antidote to save the life of a homeless man at a Metrolink stop who had apparently overdosed on heroin.

“It’s pretty simple to identify a heroin overdose, with the pinpoint pupils,” said Hinson. If the antidote is given soon enough – before the user has stopped breathing for several minutes – the effects of the heroin can be swiftly reversed.

Flickr/e-MagineArt.com

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Saturday is sponsoring a nationwide prescription drug take-back event.

Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., anyone can turn in their expired or unwanted medications at thousands of police stations, pharmacies, and other sites across the country, including here in St. Louis.

(Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat) / (http://www.bnd.com)

A former St. Clair County judge will spend two years in federal prison for federal drug and weapons charges. 

"When judges fall from grace, we expect them to land a little bit harder than the rest of us," said Judge Joe Billy McDade when he handed out the sentence to Michael Cook this afternoon. Cook pleaded guilty in November to heroin possession, and to being a drug user in possession of a firearm.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

For Michael Shah of the Drug Enforcement Agency, children should have no expectation of privacy. That’s an especially important attitude for parents worried about their kids using heroin. 

During a speech before the Madison County heroin task force in Edwardsville on Friday, Shah said that parents shouldn’t be shy about looking through their children’s stuff – including their cars or their dirty clothes. Anything, he said, to detect heroin use as early as possible.

WBEZ/Luis Perea

St. Louis has a heroin problem. And the problem is growing, especially among suburban youth.

As previously reported by St. Louis Public Radio, the number of deaths in Missouri caused by heroin has doubled in recent years, with 90 percent of those deaths occurring in St. Louis.

(Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat) / (http://www.bnd.com)

A federal court in Illinois has rejected a plea agreement that would have sent former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook to prison for 18 months on drug and weapons charges.

Judge Joe McDade, who normally presides over federal cases in Peoria, Ill., told attorneys for both sides today that he did not believe the proposed sentence was long enough to assure St. Clair County residents that their judiciary was in good hands. McDade was assigned to the case after two judges from the Southern District recused themselves. 

(via Flickr/Michael Velardo)

The top two law enforcement officials in Madison County, Ill., say they want to hear from anyone and everyone who might have ideas about slowing the heroin epidemic in the county.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

Experts who study drug trends say the presumed fatal heroin overdose of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman shines the spotlight anew on the need for society to come to grips with widespread heroin abuse across the nation and in St. Louis.

Among those who have studied the issue is Theodore “Ted” Cicero, a  professor in neuropharmacology in psychiatry at Washington University Medical School. He has tracked patient trends in 150 drug treatment facilities nationwide for more than seven years.

(Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat) / (http://www.bnd.com)

Federal prosecutors say a southwestern Illinois man who admitted to trafficking heroin supplied the narcotic almost daily to a former judge now facing drug and weapons charges.

Thirty-four-year-old Sean McGilvery of Belleville pleaded guilty to heroin conspiracy and possession Thursday in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis.
 Prosecutors say Michael Cook was a St. Clair County circuit judge when he got heroin from McGilvery "on an almost daily basis."

(via Flickr/Michael Velardo)

The number of heroin deaths in St. Louis County has decreased in recent months when compared to recent years, however, use of and addiction to the drug in the St. Louis area has grown to epidemic proportions.

Bill Raack, St. Louis Public Radio

For the past year, St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch and community organizations have held nearly two dozen town hall meetings to raise awareness of the heroin epidemic. Deaths from heroin overdoses continue to decline, but officials say they are seeing an uptick in some age groups.

Through September of this year there have been 45 heroin deaths in St. Louis County, that’s compared to 55 last year.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie Bierach sat down with Chief Fitch to talk about their efforts to go after heroin suppliers.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Building in Midtown fire up to code, fire chief says

City fire officials say a Tuesday night blaze that left an apartment building near Saint Louis University completely uninhabitable does not appear to be suspicious.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Quinn to announce plan to address Illinois' drought

Gov. Pat Quinn plans  a visit to a southern Illinois farm today. The Illinois Farm Bureau says that so far, it's the sixth driest year on record. The average precipitation of the first half of the year was 12.6 inches. Much of Illinois' corn and soybean crop is suffering. Farm officials say southern Illinois is experiencing the worst of it.  Quinn is expected to detail whatever government relief may be available to drought-affected growers and ranchers.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

St. Louis County officials believe a strong public awareness campaign about the dangers of heroin use are having an impact.

The county has reported 14 deaths from heroin through April 10, down from 32 over the same period last year - a drop of more than 50 percent.

(via Flickr/Ctd 2005)

A bill designed to crack down on the theft of scrap metal in St. Louis city finally cleared its first legislative hurdle on Tuesday.

The legislation's been languishing in the city's Public Safety committee since June as Ald. Donna Baringer and scrap metal companies in the city worked out a dispute over payment methods.

(via Flickr/Michael Velardo)

The Drug Enforcement Administration and about two dozen St. Louis-area police agencies are arresting more than 100 traffickers in a heroin roundup.

The arrests began Tuesday morning. By midday, nearly 50 traffickers were in custody. The DEA's St. Louis agent in charge, Harry Sommers, told The Associated Press that all told, 104 traffickers were expected to be arrested.

Sommers says the goal is to put a dent in the local heroin market and send a message to users, dealers and traffickers that police are out to get them.

(via Flickr/CrashTestAddict)

Town Hall tonight on heroin epidemic

Tonight, law enforcement, social workers and drug counselors will hold a third Town Hall meeting on the epidemic of heroin and prescription pain killer use among teens in St. Louis County. Speakers will be on hand to talk about police enforcement strategies and signs of heroin addiction.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

In the 1970s it killed Janis Joplin. In the 1980s it killed John Belushi. In the 1990s it killed actor River Phoenix. And now a very potent form is killing young people in suburban St. Louis. It is heroin and it’s an epidemic according to St. Louis area officials.

As St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie Bierach reports, parents, police and addiction specialists are desperately trying to get a handle on the problem.

Bill Raack, St. Louis Public Radio

The use of heroin in the St. Louis area is at epidemic levels, according to law enforcement officials.

The number of heroin overdoses and deaths has doubled in the St. Louis County and city over the past four years. St. Louis County Chief of Police Tim Fitch said the drug is cheaper now and it can be snorted or smoked, instead of injected. He said it's no longer just an urban issue.

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