Heroin seizures in Sebastian and Crawford counties have recently exceeded the combined seizure totals from previous years.
Members of the District Drugs Task Force 12th and 21st have seized between 3-4 pounds of heroin during the past year – more than the combined total they had incurred in the previous 25 years, according to the Director of the Task Force. Drugs Paul Smith. Smith stated that sources outside the drug led to the area being void due to the crackdown of authorities on doctors who overload exacerbated palliative drugs together with state regulations for opioid prescriptions.
It is estimated that three out of every four people started using a prescription operant in the past year, according to the Disease Control and Prevention Centers. Sebastian County doctors in 2016 ordered 169 estimated painkiller prescriptions per 100 people in 2016 and 153.1 per 100 in 2017, according to the Centers.
In April 2018, the Arkansas Medical Board passed regulations to require doctors to justify prescriptions in excess of 50 morphine mill equivalent. Medical Board members have taken actions against doctors Donald Eugene Hinderliter from Hinderliter Pain Clinic in Barling and Cecil Walter Gaby from Gaby Pain Clinic, Fort Smith, who believe Drug enforcement officers have prescribed almost 2 million pill, including opioid painkillers, over two years.
“The heroin traffickers have the opportunity to do this as an opportunity to take advantage of this customer base in our area with heroin. It's a natural move, ”Smith said.
The "untapped" drug for about thirty years in the Fort Smith region is now being trafficked from within the region and across the country, Smith said. He said heroin traffickers came from Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Bakersfield, California, to try to establish trafficking and heroin distribution in the area.
Members of the Drugs Task Force in conjunction with Van Buren's Police Department on 29 August 24 seized a suspected drug dealer, some of whom believed they were responsible for 6 grams of heroin. The Task Force members in April seized 14.5 ounces of heroin received from California and were suspected of producing replica painkillers containing the synthetic fentanyl opanid.
Outside of large-scale drug operations, local law enforcement is looking out for the drug, Smith said.
“Our law enforcement tells us,“ We have these people at home, ”and we act on it as quickly as we can,” says Smith. "We try to keep it from a foothold."