Metro East Officials Confront Overdose Deaths
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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (KMOX) – The two-story Madison County, Illinois board room is full of law enforcers and prosecutors — men and woman who’ve been watching a myriad of prescription drugs and illicit substances get into the wrong hands.
Earlier this month KMOX News told you how Metro East officials are sounding an alarm over a spike drug overdose deaths.
This week, law enforcement officials are learning how to investigate those cases, to get the root of the problem, the dealers.
Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn punctuates the heroin problem. “In 2009 we handled 9 heroin deaths, in 2010 we handled 18, as of 2011 and we’re only into the third month, we’ve already handled 9.”
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons says cell phone and other electronic records hold the key to tracking down many dealers. Plus Gibbons say prosecutors are using new strategies. For example, Gibbons says a death that results from an overdose of narcotics, “that [dealer] can be charged with murder, federally, and the US Attorneys office is committing to doing that.”
And Gibbons say prescription and narcotic drug abuse is showing up in younger and younger age groups. “We’re finding that this is showing up in high schools with frightening frequency.”
In fact, federal officials say the latest performance enhancing drug hitting campus, isn’t for athletes.
“They’re using it to stay focused, to stay alert,” explains Michael Kress, Supervisory Special Agent out of the DEA’s main headquarters in Virginia. Kress says college kids — and even some high schoolers — are getting their hands on supplies of prescription stimulants normally used to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders.
“They’ve got rehearsed lists of symptoms that they may have that they go to a doctor to say I have A through Z, can you diagnose me? Well they’re all symptoms that can be used for Adderall and Ritalin and stuff like that.”
Kress also warned local law enforcement officials about pill mills — facilities that give illegal “cash and carry access” to prescription medicines such as oxycodone, xanax and soma.
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