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Law enforcement officials take tough stance against heroin threat

As the threat of increased heroin usage grows in Lackawanna and surrounding counties, the resolve of law enforcement officials to increase their efforts to fight the drug grows. Local law enforcement officials are nearly unanimous in the opinion that heroin is the number one drug problem in the region. Statistics drawn from the county legal system may support their claim.

In 2007, three persons were arrested in Scranton during a bust that yielded 3,20 bags of heroin. In contrast, during a bust in late June 2014, police officers allegedly recovered 3,000 bags of heroin. The Lackawanna County district attorney stated that his office currently has 3,000 active criminal cases and that approximately 60 to 70 percent involve drugs or alcohol.

Getting drug dealers off the streets is difficult and dangerous work. A common tactic is persuading either a dealer or a customer to "flip," that is, become an informant about other dealers and their customers. Police officers often provide informants with money to make a "buy" and then arrest alleged dealers. Detectives who do this work attest to its difficulty, but they also acknowledge that helping a user become sober is very satisfying.

Possessing, using and selling heroin are not the only drug-related crimes that trouble police. A man recently arrested in Scranton admitted that he stole a television set which he then sold for enough money to buy about a dozen small bags of heroin. The man told the detective, "I have a drug problem."

While the perseverance of local police officers is admiring, all too often their efforts lead to the arrest of innocent individuals or their investigations lead to criminal charges that are too serious. When this occurs, an accused individual could face significant long-term consequences that could ruin parts of his or her life and strip him or her of freedom.

Therefore, anyone charged with such a crime should immediately seek representation by an attorney with experience in defending these crimes. Such an attorney can investigate the crime, develop defenses and perhaps negotiate an effective plea bargain.

Source: Scranton Times-Tribune, "As the grip of heroin grows, so does law enforcement's resolve," Joseph Kohut, July 21, 2014

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