May 07, 2021

Heroin, cocaine cases decline

AUGUSTA — The state Drug Task Force prosecuted fewer heroin and cocaine cases during the past year, but saw more cases across the state involving prescription narcotics, Attorney General Andrew Ketterer said.

“In the struggle against drug addiction, the battle lines are constantly being redrawn,” said Ketterer.

Overall, Drug Task Force attorneys prosecuted and completed 408 cases between July 1999 and June 30. While the total is only five more than during the same period last year, some new trends developed, said Ketterer’s report.

Cumberland County, which includes Portland, had 17 heroin cases during the most recent 12-month period, a sharp drop from 28 last year.

Androscoggin County had fewer cases involving crack cocaine, as the number dropped from 22 to 15. For years, crack cases have been confined mostly to the Lewiston area in Androscoggin.

But at the same time, the number of crack cases was up sharply from four to 11 in Cumberland County. Heroin showed a bigger presence in Penobscot County, which had four heroin cases, twice as many as during the previous year.

Statewide, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases involving the “club drug” ecstasy, a hallucinogenic form of methamphetamine, with seven reported in the past year. No cases were cited for the previous year.

The number of cases involving use and sale of prescription narcotic drugs rose from 48 to 70 between the two years. At the same time, the number of marijuana cases dropped from 162 to 148.

Statewide, the number of heroin cases dropped from 51 to 41, while combined figures for crack and cocaine show the total dropping from 125 to 117.

Ketterer’s report underscored some strong links between age groups and the types of drugs preferred.

Users 30 and under tended to become involved with hallucinogenic drugs like ecstasy and LSD, and heroin.

Users over 30 were more likely to use marijuana, powder and crack cocaine, and illegally diverted prescription pills.

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