Moffat, Routt counties no exemption to national heroin presence
November 22, 2015
Across Northwest Colorado, law enforcement is witnessing an influx of heroin.
"We're just seeing a dramatic increase in the use of heroin," Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said.
Reports from local law enforcement on the presence of the drug in Routt and Moffat counties align with a national trend of increased use.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin use has gone up across the nation amongst men and women of all income levels in the past decade. In adults aged 18 to 25, use has more than doubled.
"Through the course of our investigations, we're finding that heroin is much more prevalent than it has been in the past," Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume said.
Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins reported a similar spike in his jurisdiction.
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"Absolutely," he said. "There's definitely been an increase in heroin activity."
Several distribution arrests have been made in Routt County in the last several years.
Police arrested Jeffrey S. Truslow, 25, and Steven L. Truslow, 29, on charges of distribution in April. In the same month, Cody Greatbatch was apprehended for alleged distribution. Matthew J. Klodt was charged with distribution of heroin in September.
In October, Routt County Sheriff's Deputies arrested Tyler M. Trivich on suspicion of distribution after they discovered 23.5 grams of heroin and a scale in his possession.
Three men were arrested in 2012 after Steamboat Springs Police found 40 grams of heroin in their vehicle. An additional 10 grams of heroin was found after searching one of the individual's homes.
Sgt. Marvin Cameron, commander of CPD's All Crimes Enforcement Team, said in his six years with ACET he has seen heroin make its way from Steamboat to Craig.
"We used to see a lot of heroin over in Steamboat but we didn't see it in Craig," he said. "Now, it's here and Craig and what I'm being told is there's quite a bit of it."
Cameron said the most recent distribution arrest in Moffat County to come to mind was that of Kendall Hickson, 20, in April. Hickson was arrested for distribution when sheriff's deputies found 14 grams of heroin and $600 in cash in the apartment where he was staying.
Law enforcement officials attribute the rise in heroin use to availability, price and increased regulation on synthetic opiates.
"There have been some measures at the state and federal level to more closely monitor the prescription of opioid pain medications, " said Hume, explaining that individuals who traditionally abused prescription opiates might have switched to heroin.
To combat the issue, law enforcement is working with social and health services.
Charity Neal, director of public health at Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, said collaboration between different entities is essential to combating drug abuse.
"No one agency is trying to take them on by themselves and that's really how we're going to be able to address it," she said.
The collaboration shows heroin use is far more than a criminal issue.
Sheriff Wiggins said the courts are "not having a positive affect" when dealing drug addicts.
"I think it's more of a social issue that has to be dealt with differently than just incarcerating people," he said, clarifying that individuals need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Neal said her organization works with addicts to promote seeking treatment as well as safe use.
"It's really important from the public health side to not just talk about stopping use, which is obviously everybody's primary goal," said Neal. "But, in the meantime, how do we keep people safe and therefor keep the public safe?"