Aug 24, 2012 12:53 AM by Jacqui Heinrich
A major drug bust announced by the Colorado Springs Police Department on Thursday took more than $5.65 million dollars worth of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana off the streets of southern Colorado. Fourteen people are behind bars, accused of drug trafficking across seven states and Mexico; seven of the people arrested are known to be illegal immigrants. Police say they were feeding a growing addiction among local young people.
It took ten months of undercover work by CSPD, Homeland Security, the FBI, and six other agencies; the payoff was great, but the celebration is bittersweet. The investigation revealed that a number of recent burglary crimes were linked to the drugs, as more kids addicted to heroin are becoming desperate for drug money.
More than eleven pounds of heroin, almost ten pounds of methamphetamine, more than a kilo of cocaine, and six-hundred pounds of marijuana were seized in three separate investigations. The drugs are believed to come from two or three Mexican drug cartels working in Colorado Springs.
Thor Eells of the Colorado Springs Metro Vice, Narcotics, and Intelligence Unit said at the press conference, "These are very well established Mexican drug trafficking organizations that are beginning to actively and tirelessly make efforts toward getting these drugs on the streets here in Colorado Springs."
The lead to the bust was almost more disturbing than the find; officers discovered the drug ring through kids breaking into homes and cars to get cash to buy heroin. Matthew Barden, Resident Agent In Charge at the Drug Enforcement Administration's local office told News 5, "The big issue and the troubling issue is the juveniles that are involved in this. They're going into the medicine cabinet, taking their family's drugs-- sometimes Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Vicodin, things like that-- then when the pills run dry they're at a full-blown addiction and they turn to heroin."
Barden says heroin is now cheaper to purchase on the black market than prescription drugs: "The fact that you can buy a dosage unit, .2 gram bag quantity of heroin in a balloon for $20 is unheard of."
Users are becoming addicted faster than ever before as the heroin available today is more potent than in years past. Barden told News 5, "In the late 70's and 80's heroin was 7, 8, 10 percent pure. The heroin we're seizing in southern Colorado is over 50% pure."
Barden says his team seized more heroin in the past 18 months than in the past five years; the increase has left police with an urgent message to parents. Barden warns the public, "You have to have open discussions with your kids. You have to know what they're doing. If you see small balloon pieces in the trash can or small pieces of tin foil in the trash can, you cannot turn a blind eye to that."
September 29th, 2012 is the next National Drug Takeback Day hosted by the DEA. It's an opportunity for people to turn in their unwanted prescriptions and get them out of the hands of kids who might abuse them, then fall into more dangerous addictions like the young heroin addicts that led to the discovery of the massive drug ring.