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Drug suspects arrested again

Repeat or related offenses are common with heroin crimes, police say

Two suspects arrested as part of a heroin probe by Rindge Police last month have been arrested again for receiving stolen property and breach of bail conditions.

Tammy Nagle, 52, of Rindge, and Joseph Nagle, 54, of Rindge, were arrested on Feb. 27 after Detective Jeffrey Seppala along with Sargent Daniel Anair and Officer Malynowski effected a search warrant and two arrest warrants, Feb. 27, at an apartment on Pyson Hill Road in Rindge. The Nagles were arraigned the next day at the Jaffrey 8th Circuit Court and are now being held at the Cheshire County Jail on $5,000 cash bail.

Police charged the Nagles with receiving stolen property and violation of their bail conditions, which had been set last month after they were arrested for felony possession of narcotics, believed to be heroin, and released on personal recognizance.

According to Rindge Police Chief Francis Morrill, many heroin addicts convicted of crimes are repeat offenders. The new arrests come at a time when authorities have noticed a spike in heroin addiction and crime.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services issued a report last week noting an increase in heroin addiction in the state. Many new heroin users became hooked by prescription medications or by illegally obtaining controlled prescriptions before switching to heroin when they ran out or couldn’t afford the drugs. Making the switch to heroin would be easy for users since it is cheaper and easier to come by than many other drugs. According to the statement, last year 64 people died of heroin-related overdoses in New Hampshire.

Rindge police have seen a spike in heroin addiction too, citing an increase in heroin-related emergency calls and crimes in the area.

Police believe that many shoplifting reports between Hannaford and Wal-Mart in Rindge are from desperate addicts trying to pay for their addiction, Morrill said.

He added that some shoplifters are coming over state lines from Massachusetts to commit crimes despite the best efforts Massachusetts police agencies to prevent it.

“Their addiction compels them to do almost anything,” said Morrill. “It’s so powerful – that’s the alarming thing.”

He added that heroin users cover a large demographic. Young, middle-aged or old, poor or wealthy, it doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to heroin addiction. And what makes it even more complicated is that most of the time, users don’t know where their drugs are coming from.

The strength of the drug varies from one source to another, Morrill said, meaning that when a dealer is arrested, the new dealer that steps in to take their place might be lacing the drug or making it in a stronger form.

Since much of the increase in crime is from the arrests of users, he said, police need to emphasize arrests on dealers. If police can arrest the dealers, he said, it’ll make it more difficult for users to get their hands on drugs.

“If you’re going to do this stuff, you’re going to get caught,” said Morrill. But, he added, police can’t arrest the problem away.

What makes heroin different from drugs like marijuana, he said, is that it’s very cheap and incredibly addictive. It’s easy to get and requires users to come back to it often or face withdrawals.

Many users begin on prescription drugs and either run out of their prescriptions or don’t have one to begin with. When their supply runs out, they start looking for a different and cheap way to get high.

According to Morrill, prescription medications have become harder to access because pharmaceuticals and doctors have become more strict. As a result addicts have switched to heroin as the cheaper alternative, which he says a person can get for about seven dollars a hit.

Arresting addicts isn’t an effective way of dealing with the problem said Morrill, because even if they’re incarcerated, they go back to their old friends and environments once they’re back on the outside.

In response to a burglary spree in Rindge two years, ago which prompted investigations into 36 separate residential burglaries, Rindge police and concerned residents adopted the Crime Watch program. According to Morrill, the program is working; there were only three residential burglaries last year. He said that it’s important for locals to watch and provide tips to police so they can get rid of dealers.

In an effort to find a more effective and cheaper way to rehabilitate addicts, the New Hampshire Drug and Mental Illness Court system works to better combat drug addiction crimes and keep non-violent offenders out of the costly prison system.

“For every dollar spent, we’re saving taxpayers four dollars,” said Allison Welsh, Cheshire Drug Court Coordinator.

The program consists of three phases of intense supervision by Drug Court supervisors, in which participants go through rehabilitation over the course of a year or more, depending on the individual. Phase one requires participants to do fifteen hours of community service, go to three weekly intensive outpatient treatments, individual counseling, drug testing, a weekly court date, attend five Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings a week, and adhere to a 10 p.m. curfew throughout all phases of rehabilitation. Phases two and three have similar requirements but require fewer meetings and appointments. In phase three, individuals must work on a recovery story and share it with others.

Individuals must plead into the program during their court proceedings and then pass either the Ohio Risk Assessment test or the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs, which establishes that the individual has a mental illness making them prone to addiction. Drug Court rehabilitates an individual as an alternative to jail and places them into a community which watches and guides the them through the recovery process.

Every participant is categorized as high risk and high need, said Welsh, and studies have shown that those individuals tend to be more successful in the program.

According to Welsh, the Cheshire Drug Court has been successful in rehabilitating six out of eight participants who now have steady jobs and remain sober.

Morrill said that the program seems to be cheaper and more effective than putting users in prison.

Hayden James can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or hjames@ledgertranscript.com.

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