GALLIPOLIS — Franklin County Sheriff’s Office narcotics investigators educated the public Wednesday as to current trends in drug use and smuggling techniques.
It was all part of the “Operation: Street Smart” program at Elizabeth Chapel Church in Gallipolis.
Narcotics investigation veterans Sgt. Mike Powell and Capt. Shawn Bain, along with Cpl. Brian Toth, addressed a variety of individuals ranging form health care professionals, city and county officials, law enforcement, teachers, social workers, parents and individuals in proximity to caring for children. The crowd was taken through the latest smoking techniques, signs of drug abuse, research on abuse, paraphernalia and how drugs are being hidden in everyday objects.
The officers had experience as past narcotics investigators, had spoken across the country and served with federal task forces.
According to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office website, “The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office created Operation Street Smart in July 2002 as a way to take community oriented policing to a new level. Street Smart is a collaborative effort between D.A.R.E. and the Special Investigations Unit, which is the sheriff’s office undercover narcotics branch. The goal of Street Smart is to provide current and up-to-date narcotics information on trends, terminology, paraphernalia and physiological effects to those individuals who deal with today’s youth on a daily basis.”
Officers advised that parents should be on the lookout for odd behavior or objects in their children’s rooms like sandpaper. Powell told the crowd that one woman discovered sandpaper within her child’s room shortly before her death to drugs. Unfortunately, she did not realize the significance of the sandpaper. The woman’s child was using the sandpaper to grind pills into powder and snort them to get a faster high. The crowd was also warned that everyday objects like soda cans were often hiding places created with compartments that could be used to smuggle illegal drugs.
“Prevention,” Bain said. “Get to the problem before one becomes a problem (said about drug abuse). That’s the most important thing to us. Today, we hit on four main topics. Alcohol, marijuana, heroin and the pharmaceuticals while not minimizing on the other drugs. Those four seem to be the main ones that are mostly in the news today and important for parents to know.”
Bain also spoke about the nature of drug concealment to the Tribune.
“Seldom are parents going to find the drug,” Bain said. “Long before they find the drug, they’ll often find the paraphernalia before they find the drug. So you need to know what that paraphernalia is and what drug it’s associated with so you know what to look for or how to confront that son or daughter with what you know is going on. That’s the first step.”
“If you notice strange things like a kid always going to a certain object, you need to wonder why, especially if something seems strange,” Toth said. “Why would kids have aluminum foil with certain patterns? Why would the foil be burnt? Why do they have balloons?”
Officers displayed objects such as lint rollers that had hollow interiors that were often used for smuggling drugs. Officers went over the necessity in disposing of unused pharmaceuticals as they were often the target of theft and addicts. The investigators told attendants that if an individual is taking pain medication to limit who they told as if word passed it made it more likely addicts may attempt to break into an individual’s home.
The event was sponsored by Health Recovery Services, Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, Gallia Citizens for Prevention and Recovery and the Gallia-Jackson-Meigs Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services.
Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning thanked community partners for supporting the event as well as the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
“I feel very strongly that citizens arming themselves with information about the nationwide heroin epidemic will help us to fight it here at home,” Browning said.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.