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Surge in heroin arrests alarms Newport Beach police

September 29, 2011 | 11:22 am

Photo: Black tar heroin being melted down. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Heroin-related arrests are up dramatically, particularly among younger users, Newport Beach police said Wednesday.

Most of those arrested on suspicion of selling and possessing heroin are in their late teens and 20s, a demographic that in the past was not typically associated with the drug, police said.

Cheap black tar heroin distributed by Mexican street gangs is increasingly being used at high school parties in Newport, police said, adding that some youngsters first get a taste for opiates from prescription pills.

"In speaking with many of these young heroin users, it seems they are being first exposed to heroin by friends who use the drug or while they are at social gatherings," said Det. Elijah Hayward. "Some of the people we have talked to were first introduced to the drug when they were 14 or 15 years old."

In the last three months, police have made 13 arrests for heroin sales and 19 for heroin possession. Another 18 arrests were made in the same time frame for narcotic prescription pills. Some of those arrested in the recent busts are as young as 17, according to the Daily Pilot.

Last year during the same time period, police made two arrests for heroin possession, two for sales and 12 for possession of narcotic pills.


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-- Lauren Williams, Times Community News

Photo: Black tar heroin being melted down. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times