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Locking up Detroit drug dealers won’t stop drug abuse, officials say

Published: Mon, April 21, 2014 @ 12:05 a.m.

Full-time, inpatient addiction treatment offers the best hope, Valley experts agreeSFlb

By Ed Runyan



The headlines in Warren over the past couple of years have chronicled the relationship between Detroit drug dealers and Warren crime.

Recently, Detroit native and drug dealer Derrick Peete got a life prison sentence for his role in a shocking Sunday morning display of gun violence that killed a Warren man near a downtown church in 2012.

Over the past year, federal and local courts have handed down stiff prison sentences for individuals from Warren and Detroit dealing in drugs and guns in the city.

James Cohen of Detroit, who associated with Peete in Warren, was convicted last year of one Detroit murder and is charged in another.

But Mark Hines, who assists addicts in the Trumbull County jail as a volunteer for the Warren nonprofit Hope House and Youngstown faith-based Ohio Valley Teen Challenge, says the problem with Trumbull County drug addiction runs deeper than just an influx of Detroit dope.

“As long as there’s demand, there’s going to be a supply,” said Hines, who’s been clean more than eight years after a decades-long drug addiction.

“The police are not going to stop them,” he said. Addicts will feed their habit no matter what it takes, he added.

“The Detroit boys are not coming down here robbing us,” Hines said, describing them more as being higher in the chain. “The people robbing us are local people. They’ll walk right into your home and rob you in broad daylight. They’ll walk into the BP gas station and rob it in broad daylight. They’ll go into [stores] and fill up a cart and go out the fire exit and take stuff to the pawn shop.”

Hines added that most addicts have an “enabler,” such as a parent or grandparent who “can’t stand to see the addict sick,” so they allow the abuse to continue. “I’ve seen mothers going to the dope house to buy drugs for the kids,” he said.

On Thursday morning, Hines said he had just been inside the jail to visit five inmates, three of whom have no access to drug treatment because they lack private insurance or Medicaid.

Hines said the best hope for reducing the drug problem here is treatment.

“Detox by itself does no good,” Hines said of being in the jail a week or so after the addict gets arrested. “One week in here and next week, when they’re out, they’re using again.”

But Hines said an addict in jail is better than an addict on the streets: “I’m glad they’re here. They’re not going to be robbing you and me. They’re not going to be on the obituary page.”

The best type of addiction treatment is inpatient, meaning full-time, Hines and Mahoning County drug-abuse professional Andrea Paventi agree.

Paventi runs Mahoning County Treatment Alternatives to Street Crimes, or TASC, which tracks and tests Mahoning County substance abusers. TASC and Meridian Community Care, which recently merged, are hoping to begin offering more services in Trumbull County. Trumbull County has no agency like TASC, Paventi said.

Trumbull County offers no inpatient treatment programs, so Hines and Paventi refer people to such facilities in Youngstown, Hermitage, Pa., Canton, Akron and Cleveland.

Many of the programs are one month or three months. Hines said he likes one in Cleveland that lasts eight months. “Twenty-eight days is rarely enough,” he said.

Hines said heroin is plentiful and cheap in Warren. “It’s as easy to find as water,” he said.

“It’s too much of a commodity,” agreed Maj. Tom Stewart of the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, a longtime Warren-area police investigator. “As soon as one [drug dealer] goes down, another one is in operation.”

Hines and Stewart say the age of the addict has dropped in recent years. “I’ve never seen so many young girls addicted to heroin,” Stewart said.

Paventi spoke two weeks ago to the U.S. House of Representatives Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, of which Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, is a member. She urged members to provide more treatment money through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help those without insurance.

Paventi said there is another class of obstacles to treatment besides lack of funding.

Ohio agreed to Medicaid expansion last year, but the process to sign up online or through the county’s Department of Job and Family Services is complicated.

It takes four to six weeks to get approval, which is “a long time for an addict,” Paventi said.

In that amount of time, an addict frequently goes “AWOL,” meaning he or she doesn’t go to appointments and court hearings, because they are back on drugs.

Frequently, the addicts who are covered by insurance are unable to get treatment because their family members are “fed up,” she said.

TASC helps fill those voids, taking people to treatment programs and helping them apply for Medicaid.

“It’s frustrating for us to navigate. I can’t imagine an addict being able to navigate it,” she said.


1billdog1(5787 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

The return of heroin use at the current levels to me is shocking. We aren't teaching our young people about it any more and the consequences of its use have been forgotten. Our young people are dropping like flies and as a nation we are unequipped to help them. Locking them up don't help, enabling them makes it worse. I recall when I was in the service in the early 80's, some states had rehab lockups. They included repeat DUI offenders, drug abusers and those caught committing petty crimes related to their substance abuse. All those sentenced were there six months to two years. I wonder what the statistics of those institutions were? What kind of % remained clean? What those that remained clean went on to do? How many became productive, tax paying, members of society?

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2mrgibson(312 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Well said billdog.
We must do a better job of drug education with our young people .
With so many young people being addicted,arrested and overdosing on herion clearly there is a major problem.

However what this story left out is the number of people 40+ years old becoming herion users and addicts.
This problem can be traced back to the days when area doctors were giving oxycontin to patients like candy.

In more recent years the feds,state and state pharmacy board have stepped in making it harder for doctors to perscribe pain medication to their patients who have been taking perscription pain meds for years.

Indeed many people have been dropped by their doctors and simply cut off from the meds they have been on and addicted to for years.
If these people can't find a new doctor who will write scripts for them they aren't going to sit around dope sick and most will turn to illegal means such as herion.

It's by far cheaper,easier to get and relieves the sickness of withdrawl.
Trumbull County offers little or nothing in helping these people get through a detox or follow up treatment.
Most addicts have no insurance and can not afford to go to a real rehab facility that actually works.

But to really understand how the drug epidemic exploded in this county you have to go back 25 + years when oxycontin first appeared in the area.
The simple answer is greed.
The pharmacy reps were making the rounds to local doctors telling them a new nonaddictive pain medican had been developed that was very effective and their patients were going to love it.

Pharmacy reps were leaving tons of free smaples for doctors to pass out to their patients which many of them did without ever reading what these powerful drugs were made of or what the active ingredient was.
Every doctor should certainly know any medication that's opiate based has a high potential for abuse and addiction.

Some of you might remember that oxycontin briefly came in 160mg dose and caused many overdose deaths and had to be pulled from the market.
One has to wonder why such a potent narcotic was ever unleashed on the public if not for profit.

The drug addiction epidemic our county and the country faces now started more than two decades ago.
It was started by corp.greed and driven for profit.
You may or may not believe this but this information was given to me by an e.r. doctor at St.Joes hospital 10 years ago.

This Dr. was very concerned by what she was seeing coming into the e.r. at the time.
She predicted back then that we were only seeing the start of a huge problem that she feared would get much worse.
She's been proven right.

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3billdog1(5787 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

eivo, it is the great capitalism that you love so much that keeps more people willing to break the law for the mighty dollar. We will never be able to restrict the level of idiots that are willing to sell their sole for the demise of another. Remember if all this comes to an end, the system will have to change to go after another group of people for the income being generated in the courts under this mess. There has always been a group willing to die for junk, and there always will be. As humans we just keep creating new junk that leads back to the original junk. Sometimes it's the doctors and business people that profit, sometimes it's the so called criminal that profit. Enough money is involved that that people are willing to die and kill for it. Now we can talk about the junkie.

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4redeye1(5615 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

elvo Here's a better idea EXECUTE the dealers if found GUILTY . Just keep executing them until there are no more. They may be dumb , but they are not stupid if the thought that they might die it will end the dealers coming to town. That's how other countries do it

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5billdog1(5787 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

I guess we would have to start with the doctors and pharmacy companies.

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6kurtw(1759 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

I read a story in the Vindicator recently about a young man stopped on Market Street in Boardman- right in front of the Uptown Pizza Shop- for failing to signal a turn (Idiot!). The officer pulled him over, became suspicious, and after a search of the vehicle found bags of heroin and- $111,000 in cash! The driver was a twenty three old kid from the hood- and a self-employed entrepreneur in the underground pharmaceutical industry- now, he's going to be locked up for awhile, but what makes anybody think that there aren't dozens- if not hundreds- of equally ambitious young men in the hood right now planning to take his place. At least, they're not on the dole, right? They're self-employed entrepreneurs, right? $111,000 stored under his car seat- for a 23 years old from an impoverished background, I'd say that's good money-- and the only thing that got him busted was failing to signal a turn.

The Bottom Line: the profits in the illegal drug trade are so huge that no matter how much we spend to suppress it, it won't work. It's a case of Prohibition all over again- remember that little experiment in social engineering? It didn't work either. We- society I mean- should take over the business ourselves and regulate it- buy heroin, or a heroin substitute, in large quantities and make it available to addicts in a clinic- free of charge- offer them at the same time counseling, social services- a support structure (in other words treat addiction as a medical condition, not a crime) and that would do more to reduce addiction- and it would cost a hell of a lot less- than our current failed approach. Also, it would be more compassionate. And- it would take the young men in the hood permanently out of the pharmaceutical industry.

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7Roger_Thornhill(1063 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Singapore doesn't have a drug problem.

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8kurtw(1759 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Another point we should remember- before we jump up and down to condemn current drug dealers- is that during Prohibition one of our most hallowed families (especially in Liberal Circles) the All-mighty Kennedy's got their start peddling illegal booze. Joe Kennedy made a significant part of his fortune (the other part came as a Wall Street Speculator- he sold short right before the '29 Crash- millions were ruined- but he did OK) running Rum from Canada. It was a very lucrative Racket for Old Joe and it helped establish the Kennedy Fortune. Maybe, if the kid on Market Street had signaled his turn and not gotten stopped he might have applied his 100 plus grand as productively- fifty years from now- as in Old Joe's case- no one would remember how he made his fortune. Such is Life.

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9SheDevil(120 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

eivo wrote:
"All we have to do is imprison ALL of those who break the law"

Including those that lie on their 501C3 application?

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10SheDevil(120 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Perjury is OK?

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11kurtw(1759 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Eivo, we DO throw them in prison- and new ones keep coming along- why?- because the profits in the underground pharmaceutical business are so incredibly high- as I pointed out in my comment- a 23 year old kid with $111,000 in cash stored under his front seat. And he's just one of the ones that got caught- how many others are out there that we don't know about. You could convert every other building site in the country into a prison and it wouldn't be enough to hold them. No, only sane approach is to attack drug dealers where it hurts them most- in the pocketbook- make drug dealing unprofitable by setting up state operated clinics that supply addicts their "fix" free of charge- coupled with counseling and a support structure. The criminals are the dealers who prey on people with an addiction. Our present approach helps the dealer by making his activity profitable- we need to change that- and saying so doesn't make me a "Bleeding Heart Liberal"- only a Realist.

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12Jerryl(117 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

You have to realize that one of eivo's critical elements to economic recovery in the US is a revitalization of the the building and construction trades by erecting MORE PRISONS.
The more prisons the merrier.

Now, if he can just figure out how to make unemployment a felony, eivo will be happier than a pig in slop.

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13IslandMike(764 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

How are we doing in The War on Drugs?

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14southsidedave(5189 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

I had my entertainment for the day reading the posts here. So if the Government legalizes drugs, the users still don't have money to buy them and will continue to steal, so how does that prevent crime?

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