01/28/16 5:57am
01/28/2016 5:57 AM

250 packets of heroin recovered from Thomas Counihan's home

A scene from early in the first season of the acclaimed HBO series “The Wire” dealt with Baltimore’s drug trade and how the system — including law enforcement, schools, government and the media — had failed that city.

A detective on the show makes an offhand comment about how they’re fighting the “war on drugs.”

“You can’t even call this a war,” his partner responds. “Wars end.” READ

11/10/14 11:30am
11/10/2014 11:30 AM
Baggies of Hollywood-branded heroin seized by the East End Drugs Task Force during an investigation into a Riverhead drug ring. (Credit: Paul Squire file)

Baggies of Hollywood-branded heroin seized by the East End Drugs Task Force during an investigation into a Riverhead drug ring. (Credit: Paul Squire file)

Tuition and books will be cheaper over the next three years at Suffolk County Community College for students looking to study drug and alcohol counseling.

SCCC recently received nearly $850,000 from the federal government to go toward its Chemical Dependence Counseling program, which “prepares students for employment or advancement in the field of chemical dependency counseling.” (more…)

06/26/14 2:26pm
06/26/2014 2:26 PM
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs legislation on Monday at the University of Binghampton related to tightening controls on heroin. (Credit: Office of Gov.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs legislation on Monday at the University of Binghampton related to tightening controls on heroin. (Credit: Office of Gov.

“They say in drug abuse treatment, the first step is to admit the reality, right?” Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked last week. “We should not deny the problem we currently have with heroin.”

Legislation to combat the growing epidemic of heroin and opioid use — a problem that has reached the East End in recent years — was considered the “top priority” in Albany last week as the state legislative session came to a close, and Mr. Cuomo touted a package of 11 separate bills designed to address “the problem” from all angles.

Calling the epidemic a “public health crisis,” the governor unveiled legislation June 18 that was designed with four particular goals in mind: assisting enforcement against illegal trafficking of such drugs, helping with emergency response in overdose situations, improving treatment options for individuals suffering from heroin and opioid addiction through insurance reforms and creating public awareness campaigns with reach to school-age children, adults and even prescribers, who are the legal gatekeepers to opioid drugs.

“I believe that this is a comprehensive approach. It has a public safety component, has a public health component and also has a public awareness campaign,” he said during a press conference about the bills, flanked by leaders of both legislative houses, as well as the state’s health commissioner.

The 11 bills were passed unanimously June 19 and were signed into law Monday during a press conference at Binghamton University. The governor said funding for all of the measures and other treatment services would be addressed in the next budget cycle.

At the same time, Mr. Cuomo announced plans to hire 100 additional experienced investigators for the State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota has already asked that some of these new hires be placed with the East End Drug Task Force, a multi-jurisdictional unit that investigates drug activity in the area.

In a letter to Mr. Cuomo requesting additional police resources, Mr. Spota called Suffolk County “ground zero in this crisis.”

According to data released in February by Dr. Michael Lehrer, chief toxicologist with the Suffolk County medical examiner’s office, heroin-related deaths have increased countywide by almost 300 percent in the past four years — from 28 in 2010 to 64 in 2011 and 83 in 2012, with at least 82 deaths reported in 2013. 

06/18/14 1:00pm
06/18/2014 1:00 PM
A Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps volunteer displays the drug Narcan, which is used to treat opiate overdoses. (Credit: Paul Squire)

A Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps volunteer displays the drug Narcan, which is used to treat opiate overdoses. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Police officers in three local departments are among the newest officers to be equipped with naloxone, a lifesaving heroin overdose drug.

The Riverhead, Southold and Southampton police departments have been approved for the Community Overdose Prevention (COP) Program, which supplies funding to equip officers with naloxone, an antidote that can instantly reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.

The program is funded through the state Attorney General’s Office, which has approved funding to equip almost half of the state’s police with the drug.

SEE PRIOR COVERAGE

Each kit consists of a pouch containing two prefilled syringes of naloxone and two atomizers to administer it through the nose, as well as gloves and an instruction booklet. Each kit costs about $60 and has a shelf life of approximately two years, according to a press release.

Long Island has received the second largest number of naloxone kit reimbursements in the state, trailing only New York City.

“By providing police officers with naloxone, we are making this life-saving overdose antidote available in every town, village and hamlet on Long Island,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Prior to the program, ambulance personnel were the only responders equipped with the drug.

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04/14/14 4:23pm
04/14/2014 4:23 PM
Bags of Hollywood-branded heroin seized by the East End Drugs Task Force during an investigation into a Riverhead drug ring. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Bags of Hollywood-branded heroin seized in February by the East End Drugs Task Force during an investigation into a Riverhead drug ring. (Credit: Paul Squire)

A new program intended to help stem an onrushing tide of heroin use across the East End was announced Monday by local politicians.

Elected leaders at the state level — state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and assemblymen Fred Thiele (R-Sag Harbor) and Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) — said the Heroin Addiction Legislative Task Force, or HALT, will meet for the first time next month, with the hope, according to Mr. LaValle, of “combating the scourge of heroin and other opiates.” (more…)

04/02/14 2:48pm
04/02/2014 2:48 PM
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota holds up a bag of heroin seized during a drug raid that busted an alleged heroin network. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota holds up a bag of heroin seized during a drug raid that busted an alleged heroin network during a press conference Wednesday morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)

A Riverhead woman is one of 14 people accused of dealing heroin in a network of drug rings that pumped about $3.6 million worth of drugs into Suffolk County, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

“This is probably one of the most prolific operations [we] have seen in many, many a year,” Mr. Spota said at a press conference Wednesday morning. (more…)

02/19/14 2:24pm
02/19/2014 2:24 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | District attorney Thomas Spota points to the suspects arrested in a heroin trafficking ring at a press conference Wednesday.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | District attorney Thomas Spota points to the suspects arrested in a heroin trafficking ring at a press conference Wednesday.

A collaboration between police forces has broken up a massive heroin ring that ferried a “pure, strong and very sought-after” brand of the drug to Riverhead from East Harlem, authorities said.

Nine men, including four from Riverhead and one from Calverton, were arrested for their roles in the ring after an investigation by the East End Drug Task Force that lasted over a year, District Attorney Thomas Spota said.  (more…)