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Posted on: January 13, 2015

Rising Heroin Use Takes Heavy Toll on Arizona

PHOENIX – A growing supply of inexpensive heroin is fueling an epidemic of addiction and criminal activity in Arizona, with devastating effects on young users in particular. The problem is the subject of “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona,” a 30-minue documentary airing on every broadcast TV station in the state and most radio outlets at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

“We’re facing a serious heroin crisis that demands the highest level of attention,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who is among several law enforcement officials featured in the documentary. “Rising addiction rates are already having an impact on the criminal justice system and they have devastating implications for the younger generation in our state,” he added.

According to data compiled by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, criminal prosecutions for heroin possession, sales or trafficking have jumped fivefold in the last eight years, from 280 cases in 2006 to more than 1,400 in 2014. Montgomery attributes the increase in part to a flood of heroin imports from Mexico, pointing to a nearly 50 percent increase in heroin seizures along the Southwest border from 2011 to 2014.

“Mexico is now the second largest opium producer in the world, with a majority of production located in Sinaloa,” he noted. “Like any other commodity, improved delivery of product and distribution, along with reduced manufacturing costs and increased availability of product leads to lower prices. As a result, heroin can be purchased today for as little as five dollars a dose.”

Montgomery also linked the current heroin epidemic to the rise in prescription drug abuse by teens and young people gaining easy access to opiate painkillers and then switching to heroin. “This is a problem that directly affects all citizens of Arizona. I strongly urge people to tune in to the “Hooked” documentary tonight and I applaud the Cronkite News Investigative team and Arizona broadcasters for bringing this important issue the attention it deserves,” Montgomery said.

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