Police: Heroin a growing menace in Chicago suburbs

Regional police officials to fight spreading drug threat.

October 24, 2012

flickr/kate.gardiner
Heroin use continues to be a growing problem among suburban youth

Police officials from the Chicagoland region held a heroin summit in Palos Hills, a suburb west of Chicago, on Tuesday, in response to the increased number of heroin-related deaths in suburban Chicago.

Will County State’s Attorney, James Glasgow, said that heroin overdose in his County went from five in the last four years to about 70 in the past two years.

He said heroin is now a more accessible and easy to consume street drug.

“It’s the most deadly drug that we have ever seen in our society, no longer do you have to shoot it, it can be smoked or snorted,” he said. “And sadly the kids in the party scene, they basically say look if you snort it or smoke it you are not an addict; only if you shoot it up.”

Glasgow also said that law enforcement agencies and local community groups need to do a lot more outreach to the thousands of parents who are clueless about the changes in this drug.

“It’s very available, it’s cheap, and once kids are at a party, maybe drinking too much or using some other drugs…they could easily give it a try.”

Officials at the summit said that heroin traffic often comes in on interstates 88 and 290, also known as the “heroin highways.”

They said while most heroin distribution takes place on the West Side, much of it is consumed in the suburbs. 

Lemont Police Chief Kevin Shaughnessy is a member of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, which organized the summit.

He said the idea is to increase communication among law enforcement representatives from around the region and send an upfront message to drug dealers.

“If you are pitching dope on the West Side of Chicago, you got about 150 chiefs of police right now that could be looking at you,” said Shaughnessy.

Shaughnessy said that many addicts, primarily young adults, are willing to travel long distances to feed their habit, a big reason to bring state and county agencies to the table.

Suburban officials have been scheduling assemblies in some of the major high schools and educating parents about the new threats of heroin.