Heroin also on the radar for Steamboat police

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— Like other Colorado communities, Steamboat Springs has seen an increase in the presence of heroin, Police Chief Joel Rae said.

“It has definitely been more and more prevalent since 2011,” Rae said Tuesday.

Since 2011, Rae said, there have been two deaths resulting from heroin overdoses. A 24-year-old Steamboat man died in December 2011, and a 37-year-old man died in October 2012.

Heroin also was a contributing factor in the death of a 58-year-old woman who died in November 2012.

Several people also have been prosecuted for charges related to heroin in recent years. Just this past December, a couple who used to live in Steamboat was extradited from Florida to face charges of heroin distribution. The charges stem from controlled heroin buys conducted by the All Crimes Enforcement Team drug task force. Daniel R. Curran III, 29, and Layla M. Harris, 37, both appeared in court Tuesday, and their cases are ongoing.

During Curran’s hearing Tuesday, he pleaded with Judge James Garrecht to have his bond reduced so he could get out of jail and go to a drug treatment program. Garrecht granted his request.

Rae said police would much rather have someone face criminal proceedings than pay the ultimate price of overdosing on the drug.

“It’s a highly addictive drug, and it can really take control of someone’s life,” Rae said.

Rae urged people with information about drug use or sales to contact police or anonymously call Routt County Crime Stoppers at 970-870-6226.

Rae said he considered heroin rather accessible, but he would not venture to guess how many people might be dealing or using heroin in the community.

“If we’re seeing it, the only thing we can assume is there is a heck of a lot more than we are seeing or hearing about,” Rae said.

All Crimes Enforcement Team Cmdr. Marvin Cameron said the drug task force, which is composed of officers from area police agencies, will continue to view heroin investigations as a priority.

If given the choice to purchase cocaine or heroin as part of an undercover drug investigation, Cameron said, they would go after the heroin.

“Heroin is nasty,” Cameron said. “It’s bad. People overdose from it.”

Cameron agreed that it is difficult to know how much heroin is in the community. In Craig, it has not been much of an issue. That community struggled with methamphetamine drug problems in the 2000s.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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