Hooked: How are opioids getting to our communities - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Hooked: How are opioids getting to our communities


"We seized 2 1/2 kilos of heroin a week and a half ago."

Two a half kilos of heroin off the streets of Rockford, the Drug Enforcement Agency says it makes an immediate impact on dealers in the area, but minimal impact on the drug trade, and how those drugs get to our region.

Authorities say they're always working to stop the flow of drugs in to the streets of our communities. 

So, let's take a look at how street drugs like heroin are actually getting to the streets of Rockford.

The trail starts largely in Mexico, according to officials.

"There's a free trade agreement, and we have open borders." said Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea

From there it's brought over the U.S. border. and up to Kansas City, and it's not just one specific route, making it difficult for the DEA to track and enforce.

It then moves north toward Chicago on major highways and railways, trafficked to Rockford, and then dispersed to smaller surrounding cities.

"They're just utilizing legitimate commerce routes, and then putting illicit cargo in with legitimate cargo." said Brent Williams, the resident agent in charge with the Rockford DEA. 

And Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea says these dealers are getting more and more savvy when it comes to transportation.

"They are really adept at figuring out ok, the police or the feds are on to us in this method, let's try this. We're a free country, you can drive down every road and the chances of you being pulled over anywhere in America just by driving, are pretty minimal."

So, if drug dealers can think it, they can achieve it. 

"It can be in liquid form, it can be in solid form, it'll be in car parts, it can be in furniture parts, mixed in with ceramic tile, mixed in with fruits." said Williams.

According to the DEA, in just five years, heroin seized at the southwest border of the United States went from just more than 500 kilograms to almost 2500, and that number is growing. 

And so is the supply on the streets. 

"The purity of heroin, with the cultivation and production in Mexico, the price has dropped and the availability has increased." said Williams.

The price and availability of heroin is playing a major role in the growth.

When it arrives in Rockford, the heroin is 60 percent pure. But by the time it hits the streets, the DEA says they've seen it down to as low as 7 percent. 

"That means I can sell that 1 kilogram at the gram level for $300,000 dollars, or I can get 300 doses of heroin." said Williams.

That's because dealers are diluting the heroin with synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentinyl, which are far more dangerous and deadly.  Doing everything they can to stretch that kilogram, to sell more and make more money. 

But the DEA and Rockford Police are working together to try and stop that flow before it starts, with the help of the community. 

"We take the tips and they say somebody is using drugs at this park, or there's somebody selling drugs here, or this house has people coming and going all hours." said O'Shea.

And once they get the users or sellers in custody, it's baby steps from there until major seizures are found, like the two and a half kilos.

"Instead of just putting them in jail or arresting them, are you willing to give us your supplier? And just keep going up the chain." said O'shea.

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