Candidates Comment On Heroin, Prescription Pill Arrests In Carolina Beach

Candidates Comment On Heroin, Prescription Pill Arrests In Carolina Beach Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 28 October 2015 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - During the October 19th, Carolina Beach Candidates Forum at the Marriott Hotel, during the portion of the forum devoted to questions for Mayoral candidates Bob Lewis and incumbent Dan Wilcox, the mood was largely calm. Issues included public safety, hardened structures to reduce beach erosion, relocating the Town's waste transfer station, open government, parking, a community pool and others. Several issues they disagreed on included open government and a statement by Bob Lewis regarding a drug problem in Carolina Beach.
On the question of public safety issues in Town, Wilcox spoke about improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety including adding more crosswalks and improving ways to alert motorists to be more alert and in compliance when approaching those crosswalks.
Bob Lewis explained, "I am more concerned about heroin trafficking in our community and that's just gone crazy. I've started talking to residents around the community on a consistent basis over the last two and a half months and I've got someone who had to send their 20 year old son to some camp because he's hooked on heroin because of these heroin traffickers in our community. I need to understand what's going on here. It's like one parent, after one parent, after one parent and then there are some close friends of mine saying stuff is going on right across the street and at retail locations... we need to stop that. My plan would be to take a look at what we need to do to make an improvement in that area. For me that's investing in public safety. Our police department. That investment being in undercover agents. We have one undercover agent as I know... we typically use county people and state resources to help us in that area but quite frankly we haven't done enough to stop this."
Wilcox explained, "I saw Mr. Lewis' comment in the Island Gazette and I was shocked. I hope he has some type of information to back up his statements. I know he hasn't talked to the Police Chief. I know he hasn't talked to the Town Manager about that so I'm not sure where that information is coming from. I spoke with the Police Chief today and showed him the comments and he was pretty shocked. He said we haven't seen a fluctuation 5% up or down in any type of drug activity in our Town in years. The few people that are selling drugs are generally local people selling them for their purposes, not traffickers coming across the bridge. I don't know where that information came from but it's border line irresponsible to put that information out and cause anxiety with the citizens and potentially cause problems for our small businesses that may lose" customers.
Lewis explained, "You can hide behind the issue all you want to hide behind the issue. I'm talking to real people out there in the community. I'm not talking to the police department. I'm talking to people in the community that are very concerned. My address is to those individuals over and over and over talking to me that said there's a problem. And there's a problem significantly in the community. If you don't want to believe that, that's fine. I'm going right to the individuals that have experienced it... so we can hide behind it, make it look good, make it really nice for our visitors and make sure no one gets upset. We have just as much a problem as they have in Wilmington."
Following the forum the Island Gazette requested statistics from the Carolina Beach Police Department on arrests for heroin and pharmaceutical opioids such as OxyContin, hydrocodone, vicodin and other prescribed pain medications.
Those statistics appear in the table to the right and show the number of arrests between 2013 and 2015 for heroin have increased from 8 in 2013 to 14 for year to date in 2015. The number of arrests are higher for  pharmaceutical pain killers.
We asked both candidates about their view on the statistics.
Lewis explained, "Well the trendline is going up. I would of thought there would be higher numbers of arrest for Heroin Trafficking.  What I do know is busts today are showing huge amounts of bags on the dealers and high bonds for dealers caught."
He explained, "If you check the task forces say that the heroin here in our area is 2 to 3 times more lethal than heroin sold on the West Coast. More deaths from overdoses. You do not think 15 Heroin related deaths in a small county (population wise) is a big number?"
Wilcox explained, "I’m pleased to see that since 2013 overall drug activities appear to be down substantially. And while within those statistics heroin arrests have seemingly increased, those numbers are somewhat skewed given several of those arrests were apparently within the same drug bust. As any Mayor should, I remain concerned about drug issues within our community and I will continue to support our police department in achieving even better results in the upcoming years. I credit our police department for this decrease in drug activity."
Lewis explained, "Well the fed I talked to who vacations here said Carolina Beach is a target.  He works on military investigations in Jacksonville and Fayetteville. He said Wilmington area is now getting supplied from multiple points. Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender have a large task force that have been working for the last 6 months. There are people at the Lake that have seen dealing going down. Two guys in [a house] on Snapper is dealing.   Our chief knows some of this information. We are a suburb of Wilmington who has at least 3 gangs in play here. Hells Angels has a new chapter in the Wilmington area."
According to Police Chief Chris Spivey, the statistics include drug investigations as well as arrests following traffic stops where drugs are located in a vehicle.
On 13 May 2015, Detectives with the Carolina Beach Narcotics Division, FBI Safe Streets Task Force, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and Wilmington Police Department executed a narcotics search warrant at 213 Raleigh Ave. Carolina Beach, NC. The search warrant concluded with the arrests of Mr. Thomas Jackson and Ms. Shannon Muldrow for multiple drug violations.
After investigating the pair in reference to heroin distribution, Detectives were able to obtain a search warrant for the residence and warrants for the arrests of Mr. Jackson and Ms. Muldrow. The service of the arrest and search warrants took place without incident or injuries.
The search revealed over 3.5 ounces of raw heroin, 1,640 glassine bags of heroin for sale, approximately $130,000 street value, thousands of glassine bags ready for packaging and other drug paraphernalia.
Spivey said that heroin bust was an anomaly because the dealers had recently relocated from the Wilmington area to a hotel room in Carolina Beach because of law enforcement activity that made them uneasy, ultimately fleeing south to Carolina Beach.
Spivey said the number of arrests for heroin and pharmaceutical pain killers fluctuates at times but is largely typical for small towns verses the higher level of cases and arrests in larger cities such as Wilmington, NC, Charlotte, NC or even larger cities such as New York.
He said the Town's undercover officer works with other agencies at the local, state and federal level. As for increased funding for another officer to work on drug investigations, Spivey said the department would welcome additional resources and it could help to further decrease drug use and drug deals in our area.
Kure Beach Police Chief Dennis Cooper said they are not aware of a "heroin" problem in Town, but they are aware that prescription pain killers are a regional and national problem that is hard to gauge in the short-term. He said five years ago they had a small number of drug related arrests, but today the number of cases is low; you could count them on one hand.
He acknowledged that much of the prescription pill abuse goes on largely behind closed doors. In the small town of Kure Beach, it's almost impossible for people to "deal" drugs in the community because word travels fast in a tightly-connected community where residents keep an eye out and are quick to report such things to police.
According to the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, as abusers of prescription pain killers progress in their addiction, they require larger and larger amounts of opioid medications to achieve a high or simply stave off withdrawal symptoms.  The expense of abuse quickly mounts, causing some abusers to turn to heroin as a cheaper alternative.

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