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Elkhart prosecutor cracking down on heroin

ELKHART, Ind. - With heroin use on the rise in Elkhart County, the prosecutor revealed her partnership plan to stem the spread of the opioid epidemic.

A recent arrest of an alleged dealer inspired her to speak out Wednesday.

Police arrested someone trying to sell an ounce of heroin, which weighs about the same as a

AA battery—but has a lot more power.

For comparison—the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the typical heroin addict uses 300mg to 500mg of heroin a day, so an ounce is about 70-days-worth for one user.

The prosecutor says that quantity is a huge concern.

 “These are our friends. These are our neighbors. These are our kids. These are our family members,” said Elkhart County Prosecutor, Vicki Becker, gesturing toward a board with 25 mugshots.

Those mugshots represent 25 of the nearly 30 people who have been charged with heroin-related crimes in Elkhart since the start of 2017.

That’s twice as many than all of last year.

“Most of these people are addicts. …These are not the kind of people that we are looking to put in jail. These are the type of people that we are looking to get intervention, to get treatment,” said Prosecutor Becker.

She says two of them are alleged dealers, however.

Those are the people that we’re coming after full force,” she said.

Certain alleged dealers could be looking at 50 years in prison.

“I will not hesitate to seek that kind of a sentence if you deserve it,” said Prosecutor Becker.

While the prosecutor’s office works street-level with the Intelligence and Covert Enforcement Unit to crack down on crime, they’re teaming up with Elkhart’s Drug Free Partnership and recovery organizations like Gweedo’s Purple Shamrocks to try to make sure more faces make it into recovery than on the board filled with mugshots.

“We started creating this conversation almost a year and a half ago, so it’s good to see that our law enforcement, our prosecutor, as well as our recovery community is starting to have this conversation in the public,” said the founder of Gweedo’s Purple Shamrocks, Sam Callantine.

Now, the prosecutor says they’re armed with better data.

“The laws in the state of Indiana are catching up. Now, there is a possibility to aggregate over a certain period of time, so we know exactly who the dealers are,” said Becker.

She says they’re doing their part, so it’s time for the community to step up, too.

“Don’t let these dealers spoil our community. We don’t want to be like these other communities who have addicts that are laying on the streets, that are dying in the alleyways, that are leaving hypodermic needles at the bus stops where our children get on school busses. Don’t let that be us,” she said.

The prosecutor says there have been 19 drug overdose deaths in the county this year, eight of which were heroin.

Resources in Elkhart County:

Addictions Recover Centers,

ARC 114 N Main Street-Goshen

204 S. Main Street- Elkhart

533-6154 (Goshen)

293-1086 (Elkhart)

A New Beginning

211 E. Washington Street – Goshen

534-5778/ Fax 534-5778

Center for Behavioral Medicine

1560 Osolo Road – Elkhart

523-3347

Center for Problem Resolution

211 S. 5th Street – Elkhart

117 W. Washington Street – Goshen

294-7747 (Elkhart)

533-0664 (Goshen) / Fax 293-6186

 Oaklawn Psychiatric Center

2600 Oakland Ave – Elkhart

533-1234

Recovery Journey

311 Winsdor Ct - Elkhart

264-5840 / Fax 264-5495

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