BENTONVILLE -- Cody Hiland warned Friday heroin and fentanyl will have the same dangerous impact in Arkansas as it's having in other places across the country.
Hiland, who recently was appointed U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, was the guest speaker at the 14th annual Benton County Substance Abuse Awareness Meth Luncheon. October is recognized as Substance Abuse Awareness Month and Drug Free Benton County targets sixth- to eighth-graders for an anti-drug presentation.
Hiland, who was prosecutor for the 20th Judicial District, said there's a population in the country hooked on opiates and painkillers and there's a fertile ground for heroin to take hold.
Hiland said he started seeing more cases in the past 18 months involving heroin in Central Arkansas.
"It is absolutely devastating," Hiland said. "Devastating to people and a community."
Hiland said drug dealers are mixing or cutting heroin with fentanyl, which is more addictive than heroin or morphine.
Last year, 4,500 people died in Ohio because of opiate overdoses and half of those were cut with fentanyl, Hiland said. He said Arizona was recording more than 100 overdose deaths a month and many involved fentanyl.
"We have a problem," Hiland said. "People are going to die. We have communities that are going to face that crisis and that's something we are going to address both as law enforcement and as a community."
People cannot put their heads in the sand to avoid the issue, Hiland said
Hiland said he's heard people say drugs are a victimless crime, but he described the impact drug-addicted parents have on the lives of their children and having to see those young people in juvenile courts.
"You haven't see the broken shards of our future sitting there waiting for someone to love them," he said.
Hiland encouraged attendees to talk with their legislators about laws and invest time in the lives of children.
Rick McLeod, a board member for Drug-Free Benton County, said they may not be able to kill the drug trade, but they can work to reduce the demand.
McLeod said more than 4,000 children have attended the group's presentations throughout the county.
Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith said, "We have a moral obligation to get the right information out to young people so they are able to make the right choice."
NW News on 11/04/2017
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