This weekend, Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a reported drug overdose in New York City. This tragic event has brought significant attention to the use of heroin in the United States.
Closer to home, in Multnomah County, heroin abuse and overdose deaths continues to be a significant issue for the community.
According to the Oregon State Medical Examiner, heroin overdose deaths in Multnomah County are as follows:
* 2011 - 95 * 2012 - 90 * 2013 - 55 (toxicology not compete on four additional cases that are suspected of being heroin overdoses)
The Portland Police Bureau Drugs and Vice Division (DVD) is notified on every drug overdose death in the City of Portland. If there are investigative leads to follow,(i.e. information on who supplied the narcotics), DVD investigators focus efforts on identifying and arresting those responsible for putting the drugs in the hands of the deceased.
In 2011, DVD investigated 25 heroin overdose deaths for potential criminal prosecution; 2012, 18 heroin overdose deaths; and, in 2013, DVD investigated 21 heroin overdose deaths. It is important to note that the amount of overdose deaths in 2013, exceed the the 15 homicide cases investigated in the City of Portland.
In 2013, DVD seized nearly 6 kilograms of heroin, which translates to 30,000 individual doses, any of which is potentially fatal.
DVD attributes many of these heroin overdose deaths to people who first became addicted to prescription pain medication then switch to heroin due to the cheaper cost.
Members of the Drugs and Vice Division created a documentary film about prescription drug abuse called Generation RX - The Pill Problem, narrated by KGW's Tracy Barry, to raise awareness about the reality of prescription drug abuse in Portland. The film can be viewed at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/426624
DVD works closely with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to investigate and eliminate illegal drug trafficking organizations (DTO's) in the Portland area and provides training and education on drug trends and illegal drug activity to other divisions within the Police Bureau as well as the community.