Heroin Use Rising in Douglas County

By: Auburn Hutton Email
By: Auburn Hutton Email

Douglas County Sheriff's say they've seen an increase in the use and possession of heroin. Because these kids were so young, they say now is the time to get a grasp on the drug, before it becomes popular.

Sergeant Tom Mezzetta says fighting meth use has always been the focus in Douglas County, so when black tar heroin showed up, he was alarmed.

"Heroin is not something we usually see in our little community. Normally when you think of heroin, you think of super models or addicts on skid row, not in the Gardnerville or Minden area."

Before heroin becomes a bigger problem, Mezzetta says he wants to change the community from the bottom up...meaning, helping Douglas County teens help themselves.

Catherine Florence is Mezzetta's target market. She's an incoming junior at Douglas High School...and she's seen what's available at school.

"Mostly marijuana, but not too much. Maybe a little cocaine but mostly marijuana," said Florence.

Florence attended the "Real World Nevada Youth Leadership Conference" in South Lake Tahoe, surrounded by teens from all over the state. The students are supposed to bring the anti-drug message back home to their classmates.

"I've reached a few people actually. One of my friends was going into the army and he had to quit smoking marijuana. I said, if you don't quit, they are not going to let you in. It's going to ruin the rest of your life."

Mezzetta says he wants active teens like Florence to use peer pressure in a positive way, in order to keep dangerous drugs like black tar heroin from becoming commonplace in Douglas County.

"People don't wake up one morning and decide to run out and do drugs. It's through their peers they learn of these substances," said Mezzetta.

The 16-year-old who may have overdosed on heroin was eventually flown to the Renown Medical Center in Reno. His current medical condition is unknown.

The man who Sheriff's believe may have sold the teens the black tar heroin, is being held in the Douglas County Jail on a $110,000 bail.


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