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Beltrami County Board hears about heroin in Beltrami County

BEMIDJI -- According to the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force, heroin is starting to make an appearance in Beltrami County and the surrounding areas.

Commander Gary Peterson, who supervises the task force, spoke at the Beltrami County Board meeting Tuesday afternoon, giving an update on what he and the task force are seeing.

He said that pill abusers have found that some of their favorite pills, like Percocet, contain acetaminophen, which has been known to cause liver damage. Because of this, users have started to transition toward heroin.

"They weren't concerned by the pills affecting them, they were concerned about what the additives were doing," Pederson said.

He said that heroin has been seen in places like the Red Lake, White Earth and Leech Lake reservations and surrounding areas, and he expects it to be seen more frequently.

Mexican drug cartels in Minneapolis are telling distributors to sell heroin cheaply and not to dilute it, causing users to get addicted faster.

"Unfortunately, because it's cheap and readily available, we are going to see more of it," Pederson said.

Methamphetamine production continues to be a concern, he said, with people still buying the precursors, which include pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in nasal and cold medicine.

Pederson said he is working with a National Guard analyst who collects data from local pharmacies, monitoring people who buy an excessive amount of pseudoephedrine.

Pederson said the production of meth has become easier because of a "one-pot method," which allows cookers to use a simple two-liter bottle to produce it. He said these bottles have been found discarded on the side of roads and can be a safety hazard.

Pederson said Hubbard County has come back into the task force, expanding its range.

He also said that because of the task force, the number of drug-related burglaries has dropped after half a dozen people were caught in the act.

Pederson said the drug problem has always been there; it is just evolving.