Law enforcement: Heroin use steady; pill and meth use on the rise

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By Mattie Cook

While heroin use in Owen County remains steady, Owen County Sheriff Mark Bess said other drugs like meth and pills are once again gaining popularity. 

Owenton Police Chief Terry Gentry agreed but said there seems to be a steady flow of heroin cases within the city limits. 

“From talking to some of the arrestees, some of them are now turning to meth instead of heroin due to a fear of overdose,” Gentry said.

He reported a total of three heroin-related arrests last month, which he said may not seem like much, but is huge for a smaller community.

“We’re making traffic stops with a more aggressive stance to investigate the circumstances and look into possible drug use to gather information to help later on for investigation,” Gentry said. “You have to ask the right questions.” 

He also noted that low manpower is a hindrance in making more arrests and seeing the progress he wishes to see, but it hasn’t hindered the force’s determination. 

On Sept. 10, 2016, a triple overdose call in the parking lot of the Owenton Village Apartments led to the arrest of Scott Rains and Marilyn Hammond. 

Both agencies believe Rains was the biggest heroin dealer in Owen County. He was charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance, heroin; first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, heroin and drug paraphernalia. 

Rains was also believed to be a major dealer in Grant and Scott counties. 

Rains’ arrest was crucial, according to Bess, who said he predicts Owen County will reflect the trends of large cities nearby. 

“Being a smaller community, especially with proximity to larger communities, I think we will see some of the same trends they see in larger cities like Cincinnati,” Bess said.

In addition to the drug investigations, Gentry said rehabilitation is also a priority. 

“We will continue to make arrests and aggressively pursue cases with in-depth, by the book investigations,” Gentry said. “Most of the arrests we make, it isn’t their first. However we, along with the courts, do encourage them to get help in providing information on resources or even help set it up.” 

Both officers agreed that the lack of growth in heroin use is encouraging, but the rise in drug use, in general, is disheartening.

“27 years ago when I first started, if you had told me the drug problem would have been this much I wouldn’t have believed you,” Gentry said.

Regardless of the drug of choice, Bess said the sheriff’s office would continue working drug investigations, which remain a “top priority.”