Northwest NEWS

July 10, 2000

Local News

King County ranked third in nation for heroin use and abuse

   In a speech before Congress June 30, King County Sheriff's Office's Chief Fae Brooks announced that King County is now ranked third in the nation for both heroin use and overdoses. The rate of heroin-related deaths has grown over 200 percent in the past eight years.

   Chief Brooks was invited to Washington, D.C. to address the Committee on Government Reform's Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, to discuss heroin coming in from Mexico. Brooks reported that over 95 prcent of heroin in King County is Mexican Black Tar. The fact that this region has multiple points of entry and diverse transportation systems provides endless routes for heroin to be brought in and distributed throughout the county.

   King County is home to a major international airport (Sea Tac), large seaport (Port of Seattle), passenger and commercial rail and bus-line hubs (Amtrak, Burlington Northern, Greyhound), and significant highway systems.

   "I'm not sure Congress or anyone understands how complex the heroin import and distribution business is. You have to match strength with strength and determination with determination. Washington State is tied for second from last in the number of police officers per thousand citizens. WIth that fact in mind, it should be easy to understand that the Sheriff and other law enforcement agencies in King County are simply out-staffed and out-financed by the heroin traders," stated Chief Brooks.

   "We need more cops and counselors in our schools, our neighborhoods, on the streets, manning our borders, monitoring business activity, and generally working to solve the problem at the supply and demand end of the heroin trade. Until we can do that, I'm afraid the heroin business and the problems that come with it will only continue to thrive in King County," said Brooks.