Marijuana, meth, heroin drugs of choice for those arrested in Pinal County

The most popular drug used in Pinal County, according to arrest reports, is marijuana. However, meth and heroin also seem to be the favorites in the county.

In 2014, there were 774 arrests for marijuana in Pinal County, 172 for synthetic narcotics, 157 for other dangerous non-narcotics and 84 for opium, cocaine and derivatives, according to Arizona state documents.

According to Norm Shafer, a senior probation officer for Pinal County, heroin use is on the upswing as of late.

“When I started 12 years ago, everything was meth,” Mr. Shafer said. “Now you still see meth, but you see heroin the most.”

Melonie Call, a probation officer II for Pinal County who focuses on drug court, agrees that heroin has become more prevalent during recent years.

“I’m noticing an uptrend in heroin use,” Ms. Call said. “That seems to be the drug of choice lately.”

Mr. Shafer believes that this trend is due opiate pain relievers getting prescribed a lot more lately and young kids stealing them from their parents’ medicine cabinets. This enables them to become hooked on opiates which, in turn, leads to heroin use.

“It’s cheaper to buy heroin than get a prescription drug off the street,”Mr.  Shafer said.

According to Mike Zukowski, a surveillance officer for Pinal County, a lot of people use meth and heroin simultaneously.

“Once they use heroin once, it’s hard to get off of it,” Mr. Zukowski said. “The meth gets them moving in the morning and it keeps their heart from stopping when they’re on heroin.”

According to Mr. Shafer, other property crimes like thefts and burglaries are usually committed to make money for drugs.

“The majority of them can’t hold a job, so they’re stealing to support their drug habit,” Mr. Shafer said.

Editor’s note: Janie Hoyt is a journalism student at the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and wrote the article as a class assignment.








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