Heroin, prescription meds use likely linked

Published 9:17 pm Friday, January 10, 2014



This week, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit made two heroin busts that saw one suspect charged with possession with intent to sell; the other, possession. But the demand for the drug might be caused by addiction to another — one that’s considered legal.

“The rise in prescription pills correlates with the rise in heroin use,” said a spokesman for the drug unit. “The pills aren’t as readily available as they were or have been, so (users) have to resort to using heroin in order to keep their opiate addiction fed.”

With the addition of a diversion officer to their ranks, the narcotics unit has had avenues opened for them to crack down on the abuse of prescription pills.

“People understand we’re being aggressive in investigating pill cases. When you send someone to prison to serve 20 years, it sends a message,” the spokesman said, referring to the case of Gregvon Satterthwaite, a Belhaven man who was convicted of trafficking prescription pain medication in June 2013.

“The more aggressive we are on pills, it forces them to buy heroin off the street.”

The heroin comes from larger surrounding towns that serve as distribution hubs for the drug trade. In nearly all heroin cases local law enforcement sees, it’s purchased elsewhere and brought back to Beaufort County for resale or personal use.

Wednesday, drug unit investigators arrested Kenneth Earl Guilford, 42, of Illinois Avenue, Washington, after they made three controlled purchases of heroin from him on other occasions, according to the spokesman. Guilford was charged with three counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver heroin and three counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was confined at the Beaufort County jail under a $15,000 secured bond. Also on Wednesday, Chad Lee Williams, 38, of Old Blounts Creek Road, Chocowinity, was stopped after investigators saw Williams’ vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road on N.C. Highway 33 East in Chocowinity, according to a press release. A search of the vehicle turned up six dosage units of heroin and a package of syringes, the release said. Williams was charged with possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia and held under a $1,500 secure bond at the Beaufort County jail.

While Beaufort County may not be a hub for heroin distribution, its presence is cause for concern — and eradication.

“The most we’ve seen in 100 bags of heroin. We’re not seeing the same weight as Greenville,” the spokesman said. “But we’re working our tails off trying to keep it under control so we don’t have the same problem (larger towns) do.”