Monday, September 28, 2015

Mexican "Farm-to-Arm Suppy Chain" of Heroin Dooms Ohio Children

"Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office has focused on the heroin epidemic, said he was astonished at how easily pill addicts made the switch.

“"There used to be some psychological barrier to heroin,' DeWine said. 'That barrier is gone today.'

"In Montgomery County, home to Dayton, heroin-related deaths have skyrocketed 225 percent since 2011. Last year, this county of 540,000 residents reported 127 fatal heroin overdoses – among the highest rates in the nation, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“'The coroner can’t keep up,” said Robert Carlson, an ethnographer at Wright State University in Dayton who helps track overdoses. 'There’s not enough room to keep all the bodies.'”

(Todd C. Frankel. "Pellets, planes and the new frontier: How Mexican cartels fuel the American heroin epidemic." The Washington Post. September 25, 2015.)
Mexican cartels with an almost corporate discipline have overtaken the U.S. heroin trade. They grow and process the drug themselves, and the cartels have been increasingly replacing their traditional black tar with an innovative high-quality powder with mass market appeal: It can be smoked or snorted by users as well as shot up by hard-core addicts.

Reporter Todd Frankel called the operation "a sophisticated farm-to-arm supply chain." The delivery system has helped heroin to surpass cocaine and meth and become America's Number 1 drug threat for the first time.

Frankel tells of one courier drug mule's experience ...

"He practiced with baby carrots, swallowing them whole, easing them down his throat with yogurt. Later came the heroin pellets, each loaded with 14 grams of powder, machine-wrapped in wax paper and thick latex. Long gone were the days of swallowing hand-knotted, drug-filled condoms. The Mexican drug trafficking organizations were always perfecting their craft.

"On this trip, Gerardo Vargas would swallow 71 pellets – a full kilo, just over two pounds, enough for as many as 30,000 hits at $10 a pop on American streets. And so before he set off on his 3,900-mile journey from Uruapan, Mexico, Vargas was given the rules: No soda, because it could erode the pellets’ wrapping. No orange juice, either. Drink only water. He was told which airports to avoid, which places to go, his every move orchestrated by his handler in Mexico.

"And don’t eat anything, he was told, until reaching the final destination: Dayton, Ohio, one of the new frontiers of the American heroin epidemic."

(Todd C. Frankel. "Pellets, planes and the new frontier: How Mexican cartels fuel the American heroin epidemic." The Washington Post. September 25, 2015.)

Frankel called Vargas "the perfect drug mule. Vargas was 22 but looked younger. He’d been born in California, moving to Mexico at age 12 after his father was deported, so he possessed a U.S. passport. He also had a spotless record, perfect English and a desperate need for cash: His father had already lost one eye to diabetes. He’d been offered $6 a gram. This job would earn him nearly $6,000.

Vargas had been carefully trained to avoid accidents such as having to use the bathroom unexpectedly or having the pellets burst inside his body.

Vargas began his journeys with visits to a gray stucco house in Uruapan, a city of 315,000 people in the state of Michoacan, which sprawls west from Mexico City to the Pacific Ocean. But Vargas knew almost nothing about Dayton, beyond what seemed to be an insatiable demand for the secret stash he carried.

As If Heroin Is Not Bad Enough

Fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths increased nearly 500 percent across Ohio in 2014, according to preliminary data released recently by the Ohio Department of Health.

The increased presence of fentanyl, an opioid that is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, was a significant contributor in a nearly 18 percent increase of overall overdose deaths in 2014. Of the record-breaking 2,482 overdose deaths, 502 of them involved fentanyl.

Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “As they build up tolerance to drugs they’re using, they may progress, for example, from prescription pain pills, to heroin, to fentanyl, which is often cut into heroin.”

Unintentional drug overdose remained the leading cause of injury-related death for Ohioans in 2014. The majority of overdose deaths, 59 percent, involved more than one drug.

(Jona Ison. "Ohio drug overdose deaths up sharply." Newark Advocate. September 25, 2015.)

And, Even Worse -- The Ohio Children Suffer
Heroin is increasingly being cited in child custody cases, recent data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services shows. In 2010, 3,726 cases noted heroin as a factor. That number almost doubled by 2013 to 6,827. This is an 83 percent increase from three years earlier.

Jennifer Justice, deputy director for child welfare for ODJFS, said, “There are higher numbers of kids and families that have heroin use in their home. Addiction of any kind is a serious problem. It’s hard. It’s hard for the parents. Children can be at risk of harm depending on the severity of the addiction."

Justice continued: “When parents are in the trenches of addiction, they tend to choose a drug over their children."

(Chris Stewart and Arundi Venkayya. "Heroin carving a destructive path." 
Dayton Daily News. July 12, 2014.)                                             

“These kids will have been through so much before they came to us that they’re going to need a lot of treatment themselves,” said Governmental Affairs Director for the Public Children Services Association of Ohio Gayle Channing Tenenbaum. She has been  highlighting the numbers as she lobbies state lawmakers for an additional $20 million for more child-custody caseworkers across Ohio.

According to Tenenbaum, the average stay in foster care is 70 days, but that number jumps to 300 days for children of parents addicted to drugs or alcohol.

As far back as five years ago, Clermont County cited substance abuse in child abuse cases. "Just about every week (2010), we are called about another child born to a heroin-addicted mother,” stated CPS Intake Department Supervisor Susan Grabowski. “This is a situation that is impacting counties and cities across the country.”

“Our caseworkers are finding that the heroin-abuse situation is not only impacting the parents of these children, in many cases the grandparents are also addicted,” said Grabowski.  She said there is a critical need for more foster parents in the county to provide stability and guidance to those children who cannot go home.

("Clermont Facing Increase in Child Abuse Cases Linked to Heroin." Press Release. October 11, 2010.) 

In Coshocton County child custody cases have increased 142 percent within the last 14 years, which officials said is mostly a result of the drug and alcohol abuse that plagues the area. There, officials have neither the budget nor the staff to effectively respond to the children in need.

Much has changed since children services merged with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services-Coshocton in 2000, Director Mindy Fehrman said. Namely, in 2000, most of the children in her agency's custody were teenagers. In 2014, the majority consisted of younger children.

The reason: The majority of parents whose children are in the agency's custody have drug and alcohol issues, Fehrman stated.

As a result, children are neglected, forgotten and left to fend for themselves. Further, without their parents there to guide them, children services has seen more children demonstrating inappropriate sexual behavior, among others things. Fehrman said, "It can, and often does, impact their intimate relationships forever."

Coshocton County Prosecutor Jason Given confirmed that the large majority of child abuse cases there generally have some kind of drug abuse linked into them from the perpetrator's side.

(Eric Lagatta. "Official: Custody cases climb with drug, alcohol abuse."
Coshocton Tribune. May 24, 2015.)

In Geauga County, the number of children in the county’s custody due to heroin or opiate abuse has increased 400 percent since 2011, according to a Children’s Services Committee Fact Sheet.

Geauga County Jobs & Family Services Director Craig Swenson said that the number of children in the agency’s custody has significantly increased over the past four years. In 2011, the average was 27 children per month. In 2014, the average was 66 and Swenson said the number ranges from 50 to 80 children in their custody at any given time.

While the number of children in the agency’s custody has risen, so too has placement costs, which Swenson said has tripled since 2011. He said the agency is expecting the costs to be over $1.3 million in 2015.

So, Geauga County voters will decide in November whether to approve a five-year, 0.5-mill additional levy for child services through the Geauga County Job & Family Services. If passed, the levy is expected to generate about $1,523,206 per year for the agency and would cost property owners $17.50 a year per $100,000 valuation. Funds generated from the levy can be used only for child protective services, child abuse and neglect prevention and foster/adoptive services.

(Andrew Cass. "November 2015 election: Geauga County Jobs & Family Services seeks 0.5-mill additional levy." The News-Herald. September 27, 2015.)

Answering Those Who Claim Drug Abuse Has No Innocent Victims

It must become the duty of all Ohio citizens to help stop the opiate epidemic. The generations affected by this abuse will continue to suffer dire consequences unless more is done to lower the insane numbers of those who are dying and becoming disabled because of the substance.

At the current rate, child abuse and neglect due to substance abuse will continue to rise to even more wildly unimaginable levels. Addicts are fostering a new generation of people with potentially severe physical and mental disabilities. We, as responsible human beings, must dedicate ourselves to saving our children, no matter how much some would rather complain about how all the blame for abuse rests with the addict.

Saving The Children 

Poem by James Walter Orr

We cut the budget to the bone
With edicts handed from the throne,
And leave the children all alone,
While we, the children's fate bemoan.
We do not think that it can be
That one can know, that one can see
That all our 'generosity'
Is posturing pomposity.

We throw more poor folk on the street
And pad the rich man's bank account.
We slap our knee, and think it's neat
And hire another man to count.
We all just watch, and make no fuss.
Forget the kids, just coddle us.

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