A special joint task force in Virginia, formed with help from several different police departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), has taken aim at 43 individuals who are suspected of possession or distribution of heroin.
Previous operations by the task force have already netted more than 200 offenders.
Virginia has taken a tough stance on those suspected of dealing in opioids. Heroin is considered a "top tier," or Schedule I drug, which means that it can net some of the harshest penalties. Possession alone can result in a year in jail and a $2,500 fine -- although first-time offenders can often qualify for alternative services, which will get them treatment and keep them under supervision instead of putting them directly in jail.
Drug traffickers don't have it so easy. If you're convicted of distributing drugs for sale, you may face anywhere from five to 40 years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine. Penalties increase drastically if you are caught with large amounts of the drug or have a previous drug-related conviction.
Virginia's response to the opioid crisis has been multi-faceted, taking different approaches to those who are merely addicted than they take toward those who are pushing the drugs onto the underground market.
The task force was developed in part to the changes in tactics brought about by the recent opioid epidemic within the state. While nationally, the issue is high in the news, some states seem hit harder than others -- and Virginia is one of those states.
Statistics from 2016 indicate that emergency room visits due to heroin overdoses have increased 89 percent and deaths due to heroin climbed 35 percent. As of 2013, drug overdoses eclipsed all other forms of unnatural deaths in the state -- propelling the issue of illegal drugs right to the forefront of the state's law enforcement professionals.
If you've been arrested for drug possession, be smart and exercise your right to remain silent. Then contact an attorney as quickly as possible for assistance.
Source: Woodbridge Patch, "Heroin Task Force Nets Warrants For 43 In Northern Virginia ICYMI," Skip Wood (Patch Staff), June 17, 2017