Responding to a surge in heroin abuse, Philadelphia police staged a three-day attack against the drug trade last week during which they arrested dozens of violent offenders and seized guns, drugs and cash, officials announced Tuesday.
The raids came two weeks after the city experienced a spike of heroin overdoses, reportedly as high as35 in five days in Kensington andFairhill.
To neighbors who believe that part of the city belongs to addicts and drug dealers,Narcotics Division Chief Inspector Dan McDonald’sresponse was simple: “We’re showing them it doesn’t.”
“We are going to apply as much resources as we can to let the neighbors take back their neighborhood,” MacDonald said at a news conference.
Police estimated the value of the drugs taken off the streets over the three days at around $225,000.
Dozens of baggies of heroin, printed with names like “Lady Gaga” and logos including eight balls, owls and the Nike “swoosh” were recovered.
The drugs circulate widely in the well-known section of Kensington where drug addicts swarm the neighborhood and dealers and prostitutes are commonly seen, alternately known as the Badlands or Zombieland.
The neighborhood was featured on the National Geographic Channel. Many locals in or near the area believe it will never change. But MacDonald said the drug trade in the area could be stopped.
“With enough resources and energy, it could be done,” he said.
While the cause of the recent spike in overdoses has not been determined, it is believed to be linked to the recent spread of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has been estimated to be 40 to 50 times stronger than street-grade heroin and which significantly increases the chances of an overdose.
MacDonald said he thinks dealers selling fentanyl that leads to fatal overdoses should be charged with “drug delivery resulting in death,” but acknowledged those cases are tough to prosecute.
“It’s happening all around the country. You’re seeing people getting prosecuted for death by overdose,” he said. “If we have a case to bring before the district attorney’s office and prove that someone delivered fentanyl-laced heroin that caused a death, if we can prove that case, we’re going to prosecute. We’re not going to let that go by the wayside.”
Results of the raid
$128,280 of cocaine
$53,969 worth of heroin.
14 vehicles, $45,425 in cash, and 21 guns —three AR-15s and 18 handguns.
170 adults, six juveniles arrested, including 36 violent offenders