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Heroin deaths spiking locally

Gates, N.Y. --- The number of deaths and overdoses where heroin is suspected appears to be on the rise locally, especially in the Town of Gates. The number is alarming to law enforcement officials.

"I've never seen so many people affected by this or had any clue that there was this many people in my community using the heroin, said Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode.

In the last four days, Gates Police suspect heroin in the apparent overdose deaths of two men.  This weekend a 41-year-old man was found dead in the public restroom of a hotel on Chili Avenue.  Last week a 55-year-old man was found dead inside his home.

Beyond that, since late December the Gates Police Department has handled two more deaths where heroin overdose is suspected or confirmed.  That makes four deaths in less than two months.

It clearly is crossing all socioeconomic statuses there are a lot of different people using this not just poor people; middle class people, rich people are using it, said Chief VanBrederode.  "It's a dangerous time right now to be shooting any kind of drugs."

Authorities believe the number of overdose and death cases is likely linked to the purity of the drug being sold and the chemicals being used to cut or dilute the drug prior to distribution.

At the federal level, the Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.) is now targeting enforcement efforts.

"This is a nationwide problem that we're having and the D.E.A. has made it its highest priority to go after, specifically, heroin traffickers, said D.E.A. Special Agent Tim Kernan. 

Generally speaking, law enforcement considers education and public awareness as the most effective tool in preventing more deaths and overdoses.  However, in targeting suppliers police and at the local, state, and federal level welcome any assistance or information the public can provide.

"If anyone knows where their loved one bought any of this stuff, that would be a start. We would be able to track backwards where the heroin came from, said Chief VanBrederode.

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Washington Times