FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Heroin Arrest/Narcotics Arrest
November 9, 2015
In June of this year Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad (CMANS) Commander Phil Price announced that CMANS had opened lines of communication with both the Atlanta Police Zone 1 Field Investigation Team (FIT) and the Atlanta-Carolinas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force. Atlanta Zone 1 includes the area known as the Bluff (a well-known open air heroin market in Atlanta). Commander Price felt that these open lines of communication were critical to addressing the increased flow of heroin into the North Metro Area. CMANS Agents were aware that many heroin users would travel to the Bluff to obtain heroin, use the drug in Atlanta, and then suffer the ill effects of the drug while at home in Cherokee County. This new strategy was seen as a way to address this trend and to approach this problem from a different direction.
The alarming increase in heroin use, not limited to Cherokee County but seen in metropolitan suburbs throughout the United States, lead to police officers and deputies being armed with Naloxone. Naloxone is a medication used to counteract the devastating effects of a heroin (or other narcotic opioid) overdose. Naloxone is a very effective tool, but must be administered quickly for the individual to survive. Every public safety officer (police, fire, EMS and Sheriff’s deputies) in Cherokee County is trained in the use of Naloxone.
The GBI Medical Examiner’s Office has recorded 27 overdose deaths in all of Cherokee County in 2015. In the first half of 2015, there were 59 overdoses responded to by the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office alone, resulting in sixteen overdose deaths. Since the new strategy was implemented, there have been 25 overdoses responded to by the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, but only 5 have been fatal. Of the 5 overdose deaths since July 1, all are pending GBI Crime Laboratory toxicology results, but indications are that at least four of those were related to prescription medications.
Commander Price said that CMANS Agents have been very aggressive in addressing the heroin trade in Cherokee County. In 2014 CMANS Agents made 3 Trafficking of Heroin charges, and in 2015 have already made 8 Trafficking of Heroin charges. In 2014 CMANS Agents seized 27.5 grams of heroin, and in 2015 have already seized 69.4 grams of heroin.
Price pointed out that no strategy can completely stop the flow of illegal drugs into Cherokee County. Price said that the strong cooperation provided by the member agencies of CMANS, and their willingness to reach out to other Metro-Atlanta agencies, has been the reason CMANS has seen some success in dealing with the tragic increase in heroin use in this country.
Sheriff Roger Garrison said, “I hear citizens express concern that there are a lot of drugs in Cherokee County, but I believe the reality is that we have a forward-thinking, progressive drug unit making important arrests that impact the drug trade. We hear about drugs because of that success. But the hard work behind the scenes, that our CMANS does, makes this a much better community in which to raise a family.”
CMANS has also undertaken support of the education and awareness mission of Cherokee FOCUS. Cherokee FOCUS is a non-profit collaborative that exists to improve the lives of families in Cherokee County by, among other initiatives, providing education and support in matters related to substance abuse. Price said,” An effective drug strategy in any community is like a stool with three legs. One leg is enforcement, one leg is treatment, and the final leg is education. If one leg fails, the stool tips over. Each aspect (or leg of the stool) is important.”
The Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad is a joint task force working in Cherokee County to investigate drug related violations. Participating agencies include the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, the Canton Police Department, the Woodstock Police Department, the Holly Springs Police Department, the Ball Ground Police Department, the Cherokee County Marshal’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia State Patrol. Citizens may call in tips anonymously to (770) 345-7920, or may speak to an agent by calling (678) 493-7625.