Report: Heroin, prescription drug seizures on the rise

Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement releases annual report

Posted: Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Prescription drug and heroin seizures by the Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement rose significantly in 2008, according to an annual report by the Alaska State Troopers.

In 2008, there were 4,970 grams of heroin seized by law enforcement officials across the state, up from 1,129 grams seized in 2007.

"The number of heroin seizures in our urban areas continues to grow. ... ABADE recognizes that there has been an increase in the availability of heroin throughout the state but particularly in the urban areas," according to the report.

The number of prescription drugs seized by ABADE nearly doubled in 2008, with 3,054 units seized compared to 1,863 seized in 2007.

"More and more, pharmaceutical medications are being abused and sold," according to the report. "ABADE has witnessed significant increases in the number of pills seized in 2008. It is believed that the largest portion of these medications is being obtained through illegal means."

Between May and December of 2008, the Juneau Police Department seized 5.13 grams of heroin, according to the report.

"Juneau continues to have significant OxyContin and cocaine importation via smuggling in parcels and air travelers," it stated.

Between May and December of 2008, officers seized 81 units of OxyContin in Juneau. They also seized 143 units of Methadone during that period. The department also seized 444 grams of cocaine during the eight-month period, along with 599 grams of marijuana.

According to the report, in Juneau, "The methamphetamine market appears to have remained flat, with reports of manufacture and distribution comparably low with the availability of OxyContin."

The report indicates only half a gram of methamphetamine was seized by JPD between May and December.

OxyContin is on the rise across Southeast Alaska, where 80-milligram tablets of the opiate-based pain pill have a street value of between $120 and $160, according to the report.

Marijuana seizures by ABADE across the state shrunk in 2008 in terms of numbers, but rose in terms of weight. Last year 253 pounds were seized, compared to 145 pounds in 2007, and 763 pounds in 2006.

ABADE eradicated 72 marijuana-growing operations in 2008, down from 93 in 2007 and 103 in 2006. The number of marijuana-related arrests also dropped last year to 852, down from 1,108 in 2007 and 1,132 in 2006.

"Most commercial marijuana growing operations are found in communities along Alaska's road system," according to the report. "For the first time in many years the Fairbanks area led the state in identified and eradicated marijuana grows, followed by the Mat-Su Valley and the Kenai Peninsula."



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