A recent traffic stop that led to two arrests for heroin possession in Washington County, New York, near the Vermont border is bringing attention to an ongoing issue of the transport of illegal drugs over state lines.
A traffic stop by state troopers early Tuesday on Route 149, west of the Village of Fort Ann, led to two arrests on charges of heroin possession with intent to sell.
The road where the arrests occurred, and also Route 4, both heading into Vermont, have seen several drug-related arrests over the past year. The frequency has led some to dub it the “Heroin Highway.”
Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said since January law enforcement in Warren and Washington Counties have been focusing on intercepting drugs as they cross state lines.
“We’ve had, running since we’ve started in January, several arrests along that corridor in addition to the most recent one,” said Jordan. “So we’ve probably had in the last eight months at least ten similar stops.”
Jordan said the primary drug intercepted passing through Washington County from points south to Vermont has been heroin. Nearby Rutland is just one community struggling with the dangerously addictive drug. In his State of the State address earlier this year, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin focused entirely on the “full-blown heroin crisis.”
In June, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed anit-heroin legislation.
Jordan said his office has been attempting to fight the prevalance of the drug by handing down stiff penalties to those transporting and selling it within the county.
“When the cases arrive here we are treating them very seriously and holding them accountable, and significant prison sentences where appropriate, because quite frankly when you have loaded firearms and drugs passing through your county it presents a very real public safety risk,” said Jordan.
Later this month, the Council for Prevention of Alcochol and Substance Abuse will be hosting a community forum in Hudson Falls focused on heroin and opioid addiction. The “Hometown vs. Heroin” forum will bring together panelists from a task force that includes law enforcement in Washington and Warren counties, lawmakers, community leaders, educators and others.
David Saffer is executive director of the Council for Prevention.
“The forum is designed to bring the community together to bring awareness of the heroin issue in our local communities and begin to develop some strategies of how to address it,” said Saffer.
Saffer says this is the first time the Council for Prevention has organized a forum on heroin.
“Heroin has become an issue in our community, as it has nationwide, over the last five years or so,” said Saffer.
“And we have seen a rather large increase in the use and sale and abuse in the last several years as well.”
Jordan said Hometown vs. Heroin is attempting to develop ways to bring addiction treatment and support to local communities.
“It is extraordinarily difficult to deal with, and so that’s why we’re trying to address the problem on that side as well. Treat the dealers one way, but the dealers need a different level of service,” said Jordan.
The Warren and Washington County Hometown vs. Heroin and Addiction forum will be held July 23rd from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Hudson Falls High School.