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Painkiller addicts turning to heroin in Shasta County

By Vienna Montague, Producer
Published On: Jan 07 2014 09:19:11 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 07 2014 11:33:18 PM CST
Black Tar Heroin
REDDING, Calif. -

Local drug agents say heroin use is up in Shasta County, because opiate users, or painkiller addicts, are switching to save money.

Sergeant Les James, who joined the Shasta Interagency Narcotics Task Force as an augment from the Redding Police Department in 2011, said it’s becoming more and more popular.   

"We saw it on the street as well, working patrol. but when I got over here, a lot of our search warrants now are strictly based on heroin."

Les James estimated that SINTF gets around half a dozen cases a month.

The agency sees a lot of black tar heroin, brought here from Mexico; however, some china white heroin from the East Coast has also made an appearance.

Black tar heroin is often brought in by Mexican drug cartels and motorcycle gangs.

Les James says people who have become addicted to pain pills like oxycontin, an opiate, often look for a cheaper way to maintain their habit.

They find it in heroin.

Expense is only one factor. Pain pills are increasingly more difficult to obtain, and have been reformulated to “lessen the high” when the pills are cooked.

So more people are injecting or smoking heroin.

It’s not just poor communities either.

James said it’s across all socioeconomic backgrounds because of how addictive it is.

“Some studies say if you use it as few as three times, three days in a row, I believe they say 25 percent of those people become addicted. I mean, it’s highly addictive.”