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Heroin-related crimes a new and serious problem in North Dakota

There has been a marked increase over the past year in the distribution and use of heroin in North Dakota. Between 2003 and 2011, there were only two people charged in the state with federal crimes related to heroin. In the year 2012 alone, 13 people were charged with heroin-related drug crimes, and just last year 57 people were charged in the state with these drug offenses.

In addition to the statistics regarding increased numbers of arrests for heroin drug offenses, statistics regarding treatment for the drug also indicate that there has been a significant increase in its use. According to the North Dakota Department of Human Services, no one sought treatment for heroin abuse in 2005, while 37 sought treatment last year.

This trend has gained the attention of officials, who link the increase in the use of heroin to the increase in population and affluence in the state. One U.S. attorney said that drug trafficking operations are becoming more active in North Dakota's oil patch regions because there is an increased population with a lot of money, which makes it attractive to sellers.

Officials say that many users start with prescription drug abuse and then move on to heroin, which is cheaper and may be easier to get. A program is being put in place to collect unused prescription medication, and a new position has been created for a special prosecutor who will handle only drug cases in the oil patch region.

Because there will now be a new special prosecutor appointed, it is reasonable to assume that authorities are prepared to take drug offenses very seriously. Drug crimes continue to have extremely harsh consequences, and people who have been arrested for such a crime would be wise to take steps to defend themselves and make sure that their rights are protected.

Source: Associated Press, "Heroin use, sale on rise in North Dakota," James MacPherson, April 5, 2014

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