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Police report resurgence in heroin use, related crimes

Authorities say the problem has already been taking root in the Kansas City and St. Louis in recent years.

July 13, 2012|by Mike Landis, KY3 News | mlandis@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo - When it comes to one particular illegal drug, what's old is becoming new again.

“In the 70s it was a big drug.  In the 80s it wasn't so big.  But it's making a comeback,” said Officer David Snider of the Springfield Police Department.

Heroin is creating renewed concerns.  Police say they are seeing more use of the drug, along with heroin-related crimes.

One example, police say, happened last week in west Springfield. Jarrod Sirois was charged with murdering his roommate, Robert Pugh, at a home on W. Latoka St. Sirois claims he beat Pugh in order to steal his heroin.

“I think people out there hear about it, want to get it, want to try it.  And once they see it and get and try it they pass it on.  

The reason for heroin’s resurgence? Police say today’s heroin is easier to injest, and it delivers more of a high. The drug is also cheaper than it used to be.

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Authorities say so far the heroin problem has been worse in Kansas City and St. Louis.  However, the issue is slowly moving south into the Ozarks.

“We are not coming across just the heroin by itself. It's in the company of other drugs,” explained Snider. 

Police say heroin and heroin-like chemicals are often found in some new synthetic drugs, including so-called bath salts. The chemicals are packaged as harmless substances ‘not intended for human consumption.  However, experts warn, these new drugs pack a dangerous punch.

“There have been some very, very odd behaviors from flesh-eating to frothing at the mouth to heart beats being irregular. And, there have been deaths associated with this particular drug,” Snider stated.

“With the bath salts and other designer drugs that are stimulants, they will often become more agitated, psychotic, even violent and combative behavior at times,” explained Dr. Eric Luehr, a physician at Mercy Springfield’s trauma center.

That means doctors and nurses face an added risk, along with the patients themselves.

“We see people have traumatic injuries superimposed on top of these overdose type situations they have,” Luehr said.

“When we find kids that are trying this drug, they are running through parking lots, stripping their clothes down, and running out into the streets…laying in the streets. There is a problem,” explained Snider.

Police simply want citizens to be alert.

“People are scared of spiders and snakes but they learn to overcome it.  Overcome this, but don't be afraid of this.  Let us [the police] know about it,” Snider said.

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