Keeping heroin off our streets

Heroin is a dangerous and highly addictive drug and keeping it out of our county and off our streets is imperative.

That’s why we offer our praise today to members of the Sampson County Sheriff’s Criminal Interdiction Team whose quick observance and steady patrol of Interstate 40 has managed to stymie transportation of the drug from the north to coastal North Carolina.

The latest example of that occurred last Wednesday when a seat belt violation stop uncovered 70 bindles of heroin and the arrest of two individuals — one from New Jersey, the other from Wilmington — on a laundry list of trafficking charges.

While sheriff’s officers have been criticized for their patrol of the interstate, and while we, too, have questioned the validity of having such a patrol, every time CID members halt another drug haul, we are convinced their training and their track record are doing exactly what needs to be done — ridding our streets, and the streets of other North Carolina cities and towns with a highly dangerous and often lethal drug.

While some might say that drugs transported through our county don’t necessarily impact it, keep in mind that drugs hauled to Wilmington will eventually land somewhere, in the hands of dealers plying their trade. It has happened time and again, so stopping it before it has time to be cut and packaged only serves to ensure it doesn’t find its way into Sampson at all. And that’s good, considering how lethal drugs like heroin actually are, and how addictive.

Reports released recently indicate that heroin use is on the rise again, a clear indication of which is the transport of the drug along the interstate, with dealers packaging it in northern states and sending it, cloaked in everything from pornography to shoes, along our highways until it reaches the port city of Wilmington where it is cut, repackaged and put on the streets.

Let us reiterate: In all likelihood that which travels the interstate to Wilmington returns along that same highway to be sold in areas across Sampson and our neighboring counties.

For that reason, having alert officers trained in spotting drug transporters on our highways has many benefits, not the least of which is making the traffic stops and conducting the searches that turn up illegal drugs.

While not every stop ends in the discovery of heroin, a large percentage of them turn up some type of illegal drug or activity, and that’s good enough for us.

Every stop that takes drugs off the street and puts dealers behind bars is a success story.

Last Wednesday was such a story, and officers deserve our thanks for a job well done.

We agree with Sheriff Jimmy Thornton’s assessment of the find. He said, “this is poison that will not end up in our communities and in the hands of our children.” And he reiterated the importance such stops have on alerting “criminals that we are out there.”

He’s right. Not only does such stops remove dangerous drugs from our streets, it sends out a tremendous message that our law enforcement officers are on patrol, waiting and watching for that one misstep that will lead to a stop. That message alone can deter crime and perhaps will be one message that resonates not just in our county but along I-40 and I-95 from one end of the interstate corridor to the other.