The Ely Times

Law enforcement has played an active role in fighting the opioid epidemic.  Sheriff Scott Henriod sat down for an interview with the Ely Times.  When asked if he thought the number of opioids prescribed in White Pine were alarming, he answered, “No not really, we as sheriff’s and chiefs across the State of Nevada have known about this epidemic for quite some time, it’s nothing new to us.”

Two years ago when the Legislature moved towards more restrictions with the medical industry and their prescribing, Henriod noted it helped but it also made it tougher on people to get a opioid prescription, which made many turn to other drugs. 

When asked what drugs? He said, “Heroin.  It is on the rise now, especially with our task force that when we are now making the arrests especially with the methamphetamines, we are also getting heroin, almost on every arrest.”

Five years ago, the mention of heroin being in White Pine County would have had locals gasping in disbelief, but now it seems as though it is more common than you may want to believe. 

Henroid said the opioid price has gone up where heroin has gone down or stayed the same, and the price for heroin is much less expensive.  

The cost of an opioid such as oxycotine or hydrocdone on the street? $25. A hit of heroin is $5, which may get you through the day, depending on your addiction. Many times heroin is injected.  It has to be diluted, into a liquid form,  and that is where overdoses come in, when the person using doesn’t know how much they can use.  

Dealers are the focus of the drug task force. They are talking about 3-4 grams being seized.  

All deputies carry Naloxene, it has been administered multiple times. EMS and Fire personnel also carry the med.  

When asked if the physicians have been overprescibing, Henroid said, “I think that is why the legislature got involved. They had doctors who thought they were helping when they became enablers. Pain maagement seemed to keep the ball rolling with people who were into the opioid abuse, and there was no way out for them.”  

New laws have helped restrict the physicians. 

Henriod reports that people will make reports of lost or stolen opiods.  

“Lost purse in the car,  we actually write them up and submit them to the doctor,” he said. “Probably one in every 10 might be a legitimate report because they have either sold them or they have used them, themselves, and I think most the time they are selling them.”

What systems are in place? Undercover agents, confidential informants are utilized. “Our users are unfortunately the people who are addicted to the drug because we have the dealer. We eliminate the dealer, and the source goes away, and we are a win win situation,” Henroid said.  

Since Henriod was elected, the drug force has been fully staffed. A briefing is held each morning, and having the direct connection with the Nevada Division of Investigations and two dedicated officers from the White Pine County sheriff’s department.

“Keeping Ely where it is a joy to live, we do have our problems,” he said.  “But I think overall we keep them in check, will they people come into the community or family that comes in to visit locals family, and they don’t see it, and that’s what we want.”  

Part of the task force grant is education in the schools. Each year, several law enforcement officers host anti-drug presentations in all of the schools in White Pine County.  

Asked if there are hot spots in the community for heroin? Henriod explained that hot spots are where a drug dealer claims his home, and that bounces around quite frequently.  

“We will arrest one or two major dealers in the county, then the streets are quiet for quite awhile, until the next guy decides he will be the next player in the game.” he said.      

Kids aren’t exempt from drugs.

Henriodsaid, “There are drugs in the high school, yes, there is a lot of meth and marijuna use going on. If you aren’t educating your children by the time they leave fifth grade, you are well behind the game.”   

Kids should know and understand extensively what drugs are, what a user is, what the consquences are.  

“If your kid hits middle school, and aren’t educated, it’s too late,” Henroid said. 

When asked about the Drug Court program, Henriod explains the program works for the individuals who want it to work. 

“We see the successes that come out of there but we see the re-offenders, and that’s unfortunate,” Henroid said.  

Several people who are or have participated in the drug court program sat down for a roundtable discussion. All of the names will remain unnamed to protect their identity.   

Half of the room of people raised their hand when asked if their addiction began with opioids. When asked if they were surprised at the number of opioids pills that were prescribed in White Pine, the answer was unanimous, “no.”    

Several spoke about how they would obtain a prescription, sell their pills, use them at an excess, and when they no longer had the resource of a prescription of an opioid, they diverted to heroin.  

“I had to have a hit of heroin before I could even get out of bed,” one woman said.  

While the use of heroin is on the rise, the sheriff’s office is working hard to crack down on the sell and purchase of drugs.  

“The goal of the sheriff’s office is to have a community that is safe where not only you but your family can go out and enjoy everything that White Pine County has to offer, and we work extremely hard to see that happens,” Henroid said.  

Taking the dealers out of the equation making it hard for people to buy drugs, don’t let it get overwhelming, put a noose around it, pull it tight as we can so it doesn’t get out of control.”  

In our next story, we will cover addiction, recovery, and treatment.