Overdoses highlight local drug problem

PARKERSBURG – Parkersburg police and emergency response crews have been dealing with a number of drug overdoses over the last month.

In January there were five major drug overdoses in Parkersburg, mostly involving individuals in their 20s and 30s, according to reports. One local 27-year-old woman died as a result of a heroin overdose, officials suspect.

Sgt. Greg Collins with the Parkersburg Police Department said heroin, bath salts and methamphetamine are the biggest drug problems Parkersburg police face right now.

“Columbus, as it has been for many years, is our biggest source city for nearly all of the drugs entering our area,” he said. “We have several heroin dealers from Columbus operating in our area.”

Collins said although Columbus is the most popular, Parkersburg police have seen some drugs coming from Detroit, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York. Agents with the Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force believe the majority of the heroin enters the area when individual groups of addicts put their money together and make the trip to Columbus to pick up the drugs.

Collins said occasionally police see a dealer operating in both Wood and Washington counties.

“Although somewhat strange, the large majority of the time we see dealers and addicts who operate in one county or the other, but not both,” he added. “Dealers that come from larger cities to sell drugs are much more likely to sell in both counties.”

Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said heroin addicts know where to get their next high, even when it means crossing state lines.

“They’re shopping around for it, and the river is no boundary to go around,” he said. “I’m sure it’s distributed throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.”

Mincks said understanding how to crack down on the drug users can be as meticulous as putting the pieces of a puzzle together.

“Our guys are working on 10 to 20 cases at a time,” he said. “It’s a vicious cycle; (drug dealers) use some, give some to their friends, enemies and go get more.”

The heroin in the drug bust in Washington County Tuesday came from Columbus, reports said. Mincks said deputies had been watching the known drug dealer, Michael Richards, and in the last four weeks noticed more activity coming from his home at 1110 Moody Ridge Road, Vincent, Ohio.

Mincks said detectives suspected Richards to have made the trip to Columbus and they decided to confront him when he came back. Reports said he returned home with about six grams of heroin, and deputies arrested five other people in his house at the time of the bust.

Collins said cooperation between local law enforcement officers on both sides of the river is crucial to the war on drugs.

“On our side of the river, there have been several recent conversations between top officials from Wood County law enforcement agencies regarding the drug situation in our area,” he said. “A lot of information has been exchanged and there has been excellent cooperation and a sense of urgency among all of our (law enforcement) leaders.”

Everyone knows the crime and drug problem that plagues us knows no political boundaries, he added.

Collins said although there is no way to relate all crime as being drug related, police know the vast majority of the crimes investigated by the detective bureau are somehow linked to drug abuse.

“These are very dangerous times for officers,” he said. “Officers must constantly be on their toes and assess every situation they are confronted with quickly.”

Police have also been concerned with the increased level of “gun play” and are monitoring that situation closely, Collins said.