Heroin use rising among O.C. youth, police say

As the price of OxyContin rises, black tar heroin finds increased popularity among opiate addicts searching for a cheaper high, authorities say.

November 03, 2010|By Joseph Serna,

Two men arrested over the weekend on suspicion of using heroin in an SUV parked on Lido Isle are just the latest sign of the narcotic's comeback among Orange County youths, authorities said Wednesday.

Two Lido Isle residents, ages 19 and 18, were arrested on suspicion of felony heroin possession and misdemeanor possession of heroin paraphernalia, respectively, according to police records.

Officers said that the pair were spotted at 3 p.m. Saturday off the Piazza Lido and Via Ithaca, using the drug in a grey GMC Yukon.


An officer went to the scene and found the men apparently under the opiate's influence, with syringes, a spoon and about a gram of heroin inside the car, said Newport Beach Police Sgt. Steve Burdette.

"That's actually a substantial amount of heroin," he said.

Newport Beach police said they found a spoon, syringes and a gram of heroin inside the suspects' car.

And such heroin-related arrests of young people in Newport Beach aren't as rare as they used to be.

"Lately, we've been seeing mostly kids getting into heroin," said Newport Beach narcotics Det. Elijah Hayward. "We're seeing it [used] across the spectrum."

So far this year, Newport Beach's narcotics unit has made 42 heroin-related arrests, mostly for sales. Police have also arrested 23 people for possessing or selling OxyContin, also known as oxycodone, a prescription opiate with qualities similar to heroin.

It's a trend of which parents throughout Orange County should be aware, police said.

"It is everywhere, but we're seeing it where we never saw it in South Orange County," said Lt. Adam Powell, commander of the Orange County Sheriff's Department Special Investigations Bureau. "Our investigative units have received calls. We have one in particular who received a call from the mother of an 18-year-old who had (overdosed). Two years ago we never heard of things like that."

Kids are smoking and injecting heroin. While this new wave of heroin users is usually in their late teens or early 20s, police in Newport Beach have talked to some who started using it as young as 13.

"When you're talking with that demographic, they started with prescription medications and saw the increased availability," Powell said.

People either got the prescription medication from their parents, or from friends who would get prescriptions after falsely complaining to their doctors about pain, Hayward said.

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