Police Battle Surge in Heroin

By Harris, Chris | The Record (Bergen County, NJ), January 19, 2015 | Go to article overview

Police Battle Surge in Heroin


Harris, Chris, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)


ELMWOOD PARK -- Police have seized more than 330 bags of heroin in nine busts and arrested 18 alleged heroin dealers and users in the two weeks since reactivating their narcotics unit to combat illicit activity stemming from the borough's proximity to Paterson, the police chief said.

"I have borrowed officers from other units where I can, and I think the results are obvious," Chief Michael Foligno said, characterizing his recent efforts to resurrect the narcotics unit a "proactive" policing "experiment."

Foligno said he has been devoting two officers at a time to patrols geared specifically toward apprehending drug offenders.

In 2014, the chief said the department dealt with 11 drug overdoses, while recording 80 narcotics-related arrests.

Bergen County has been hit hard by the state's recent wave of opioid addiction. The county's official tally of heroin-related deaths in 2014 is not yet available, but Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli estimated that it is 82. However, there have been 40 saves made with Narcan -- a drug used to counteract the effects of an overdose -- since Aug. 1, he said.

Law enforcement officials and legislators have been working to attack the epidemic from a variety of directions -- through education, training and rehabilitation. The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office has been holding assemblies for high school freshmen. A plan is in development to focus drug-crime prosecution more on treatment and recovery.

This year's string of heroin arrests in Elmwood Park has involved both dealers and users.

"Some of these people are coming in to Elmwood Park to use, because their addiction is so great that, shortly after they obtain it, they need to use it," Foligno said.

Most of the users recently arrested in Elmwood Park purchased their bags of heroin in Paterson, just across the Passaic River, where enforcement efforts have been beefed up in recent months, the chief said. …

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