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Heroin

Lee Zeldin. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

The fight against opioid abuse took a step further this week as U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) plugged new legislation. The freshman congressman is a co-sponsor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which plans to spend $8.3 billion in funding to help combat widespread drug addiction, especially to heroin.

CARA passed through the House of Representatives last week with a bipartisan vote of 407 to 5.

Zeldin, who is a member of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, said he has been a proud supporter of this bill for more than a year now.

“As a co-sponsor of CARA, I have been a vocal supporter of this bill since it was first introduced at the beginning of last year,” he said in a statement. “Over the past year … I have worked closely with our local community, hosting multiple drug task force round tables here on Long Island, to bring together local elected officials, law enforcement, health professionals, community groups, parents, concerned residents and those in recovery, to discuss and develop a more localized solution to address this crisis.”

Zeldin has held heroin events in Smithtown and Brookhaven to meet with community members and keep the discussion open.

The specifics of CARA include $80 million in funding to help prevent and treat addiction on a local level through community-based education, prevention, treatment and recovery programs; $160 million for the expansion of medication-assisted treatment options; and $103 million to establish a community-based competitive grant program to address and treat the problems of heroin and opioid addiction and abuse. Additional funding will also help supply police forces and emergency medical responders with higher quantities of naloxone, known more commonly as Narcan, a medication that is proven to reverse an opioid overdose.

“We must always continue our fight to provide local communities with the resources necessary to help stop and prevent drug abuse through treatment, enforcement and education.”
—Lee Zeldin

Another part of CARA’s funding focuses on pain management and prescription.

According to the bill, the Department of Health and Human Services is required to assemble a Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force, which will review, modify and update the best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and examine and identify the need for, development and availability of medical alternatives to opioids.

The grant aspect of CARA is connected to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. CARA is set to amend that bill to authorize the Department of Justice to award grants to state, local and tribal governments to provide opioid abuse services, including enhancing collaboration between criminal justice and substance abuse agencies; developing, implementing and expanding programs to prevent, treat or respond to opioid abuse; training first responders to administer opioid overdose reversal drugs; and investigating unlawful opioid distribution activities.

CARA currently has 44 co-sponsors and is set to go to a vote in the United States Senate.

The North Shore is not immune to the heroin crisis. According to a New York State Opioid Poisoning, Overdose and Prevention Report from 2015, Suffolk County has the highest heroin-related overdose fatalities of any county in New York.

Zeldin said he hopes the Senate will act fast to approve the bill.

“I implore the Senate to act quickly to pass this bill, so that we can start providing the necessary resources to those in need,” he said. “While there is not just one piece of legislation that will solve this crisis, we must always continue our fight to provide our local communities with the resources necessary to help stop and prevent drug abuse through treatment, enforcement and education.”

Stephen Harding photo from SCPD

A Setauket woman reported her homeless son missing last week and police are looking for the public’s help to find the man, who has special medical needs.

Stephen Nathaniel Harding, who goes by the nickname “Nat,” might be in the Selden or Farmingville areas, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. The mother has not heard from her son since May 22 and reported him missing on June 13.

The 29-year-old Harding has Type II diabetes and is addicted to heroin, police said. Authorities described the homeless man as white, 5 feet 5 inches tall with brown eyes and brown hair. He weighs about 200 pounds and has a scar on his forehead.

Anyone with information about Harding’s whereabouts is asked to call 911, or the 6th Squad detectives who are looking for him at 631-854-8652.

Marisa Vitali, creator of “Grace,” speaks after the screening of the film. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Community members from all around the Huntington area packed into the John W. Engeman Theater on Tuesday night for a premiere screening of “Grace,” a short film about heroin recovery.

Marisa Vitali, the film’s creator and a Northport native, based the film on her own struggles with drug addiction and rehabilitation.

“I would have never been able to do this without all of you,” Vitali said after receiving a round of applause once the film ended. She shot the motion picture in Northport, primarily at Tim’s Shipwreck Diner, and used members of the community as extras in the film.

During the unveiling, Vitali said she realized that she has been clean for 14 years, four months and four days, to the day.

“I am so grateful,” she said. “I am so grateful I didn’t wake up dope sick today and I am so grateful I didn’t have to use. Everything else is just a blessing on top of that.”

She then spoke to the people in the room who may be currently going through the same challenge or have a loved one who is.

“I’m sure there are people here who are struggling, who don’t know where to go … but I want to let you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We do recover.”

The event was hosted in partnership with the Northport-East Northport Drug and Alcohol Task Force. Profits from tickets, food and raffle tickets sold at the event went toward the Youth Directions and Alternatives, a nonprofit organization serving communities throughout Huntington by developing services and sobriety programs for youth in the communities.

According to Anthony Fernandino, chair of the task force, the event had raised $7,500 before raffle ticket proceeds were counted.

Fernandino has been working with Vitali for almost four years trying to get the event together and was ecstatic to see it all come together.

“It feels great,” he said before the screening. “We sold out and exceeded our expectations. I’m excited because we have a house full of people that we will be able to educate and bring awareness to this issue.”

Northport Mayor George Doll, who Vitali said was a vital part of making the film, was proud to be a part of the event.

“This is a fantastic thing,” he said. “We have people coming here all the time to do films, but hers was special.”

Northport Police Chief Bill Ricca agreed that it was a unique and important approach to combat addiction.

“From a law enforcement standpoint, we can’t arrest ourselves out of this problem,” he said. “We need the community’s help, we need treatment, prevention, and education.”

After the film, there was a question and answer portion in which audience members asked Vitali about how she first got into drugs, got clean and continues to live a healthy life. Barry Zaks, director of Huntington Drug & Alcohol Counseling Center, also answered questions on how and when parents should start having conversations about drugs with their kids.

Drugs in Miller Place
On May 27 at about 6 p.m., a 37-year-old man from Miller Place seated in a 2009 Acura on Tyler Avenue possessed heroin, police said. He was arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. At the same location and time, a 46-year-old man from Middle Island possessed heroin and two different medications without prescriptions, according to police. He was arrested as well and charged with fourth-degree possession of a narcotic drug and two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Cannabusted
At a home on Stanley Drive in Centereach, a 24-year-old man was found to possess cannabis at about 9 p.m. on May 25, according to police. He was arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

How did those get in there?
A 34-year-old man from Wappenger Falls was found in possession of multiple bags of heroin at the 6th Precinct while being arrested on an unrelated charge stemming from an incident on Horseblock Road in Selden at about 10:30 p.m. on May 28, police said. He was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Garden-variety criminal
A statue and decorative planters were stolen from the front yard of a home on Christian Avenue in Stony Brook at about noon on May 14, police said.

Back to work
Between November 2011 and December 2013, a 30-year-old man from Selden collected unemployment fraudulently, according to police. He was arrested at a home on Paula Boulevard at about 10:30 a.m. on May 27 and charged with fourth-degree insurance fraud.

Dirty job
On May 26 at the Walgreens on Route 112 in Medford, a 44-year-old man from Middle Island stole three bottles of Clorox bleach and a bottle of Tide laundry detergent, police said. He was arrested and charged with petit larceny.

Ruthless robbery
A 21-year-old man from Ronkonkoma approached a woman near the Walgreens on Route 25 in Selden at about 10 p.m. on May 26 and forcefully demanded money from her, according to police. He was arrested and charged with first-degree robbery.

Empty your pockets
While at the 6th Precinct at about noon on May 25 after he was arrested in Selden, a 27-year-old man from Rocky Point was found to possess the drug methadone, police said. He was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Bike rides off
At about 12:30 p.m. on May 29, someone stole a black and white BMX bike from a home on Olympia Street in Port Jefferson Station, police said.

Cable repairman?
Someone tried to exit the Walmart on Nesconset Highway in Setauket without paying for a television and a pair of pliers at about 2:30 p.m. on May 29, according to police.

Know your parole
A 32-year-old man from Coram was in violation of his parole at about 2 a.m. on May 29, according to police. He was on Main Street in Port Jefferson when he was arrested and charged with the parole violation.

Rock-throwing spree
The rear passenger side window of a 2012 Jeep parked near a home on Avondale Drive in Centereach was smashed by someone at about 8 p.m. on May 27. On nearby Salem Road about 30 minutes later, the rear window of a 2006 Toyota was smashed and a rock was thrown through the driver side window of a 1997 Honda, according to police.

Missing drugs from CVS
Various over-the-counter medications were stolen from the CVS Pharmacy on Middle Country Road in Selden at about 1:30 p.m. on May 28, according to police.

It’s a fixer-upper
Household items were stolen from the Walmart on Nesconset Highway in Setauket at about 2 p.m. on May 28, police said.

Mishaps at Macy’s
A 29-year-old female from Ronkonkoma was arrested on May 29 at 1:10 p.m. after police said she stole merchandise from Macy’s in the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, and had cocaine in her possession. She was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny valuing more than $1,000 and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
On May 28 a 20-year-old man from Riverhead was arrested after police said he stole belts and shorts from Macy’s in the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove. He was charged with petit larceny.

Movie lover
A 57-year-old man from Hauppauge was arrested on May 29 at The Smithtown Library on Smithtown Boulevard after police said he stole movies. He was charged with petit larceny.

Stay sharp
Police said a 20-year-old man from Ronkonkoma threatened a group of people with a knife at the handball courts in Lake Ronkonkoma County Park on May 29, and then an hour later threatened a man with a knife standing outside his house on Smithtown Boulevard. He was arrested and charged with second-degree menacing with a weapon.

Gulf strike
A 23-year-old man from Ronkonkoma was arrested on May 28 after police said he stole money from a Gulf gas station on Express Drive North in Islandia, where he was employed. He was charged with petit larceny.

Takes one to steal some
Police said a 50-year-old man from Ronkonkoma was arrested after police said he stole various tools from a shed on a residence on Oakside Drive in Smithtown on April 30. On May 27 he was arrested at the 4th Precinct, and charged with petit larceny.

Not Kohl
On May 27, a 42-year-old man from Brentwood was arrested after police said he stole clothing from Kohl’s on Crooked Hill Road in Commack on multiple occasions. He was charged with two counts of petit larceny.

Adder-don’t
Police said a 30-year-old man from Smithtown had Adderall on him without a prescription while on East Main Street in Kings Park on May 26. He was arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Pocketing piping
A 27-year-old woman from Wyandanch was arrested on May 25, after police said she stole copper piping from a residence on Woodcut Drive in Mastic Beach. She was charged with third-degree burglary with illegal entry.

Car dramas
Police said an unknown person dented a 2011 Mini Cooper parked on Crescent Place in Smithtown on May 29.
On May 29, an unknown person damaged a 2012 Chevy that was parked on 5th Street in Lake Ronkonkoma.
One tire was stolen from a 2016 Honda parked on Gibbs Pond Road in Nesconset on May 29, police said.

Walmart woes
On May 29, police said an unknown person sole cellphone cases, a drill and DVDs from Walmart in the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove.

Dave and bust in
A 2012 Nissan Maxima parked in the parking lot of Dave & Buster’s on Veterans Memorial Highway in Islandia was broken into and a purse stolen from inside on May 28, police said.

Whole wallet gone
Police said an unknown person stole a wallet out of a shopping cart at Whole Foods Market on New Moriches Road in Lake Grove on May 28.

Cocaine couple
On May 29, a 21-year-old man and a 46-year-old man, both from Huntington Station, were arrested after police said they had cocaine on them while on New York Avenue in Huntington at about 2:30 a.m. They were both charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Shine some light on the crime
An unknown person shattered the rear window of a 2011 Honda CR-V parked on the corner of Lantern Street in Greenlawn on May 29.

Can’t party here
A 34-year-old man from Huntington Station was arrested on May 27 after police said he permitted patrons to consume alcohol on the premises at Hola Centro America Grocery on New York Avenue in Huntington Station. He was charged with violation of a special license consumption on premises.

The plastics
Police said a 24-year-old man from Huntington Station had three plastic bags filled with marijuana while on Depot Road in Huntington Station at 3:45 p.m. on May 26. He was arrested and charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

CVS sees things
Police said a 30-year-old man from Commack stole more than $1,000 from CVS on Commack Road while working there as an employee. He was arrested on May 27 and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny.

Not a safe environment for a baby
A 28-year-old man from Huntington Station was arrested on May 27 after police said he had multiple rounds of ammunition, loaded guns and cocaine in his home on 7th Avenue with a baby in the house. He was arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, acting in a manor likely to be injurious to the welfare of a child and third-degree possession of narcotic drugs with the intent to sell.

Not exactly on a straight path
On May 27, a 20-year-old woman from Lindenhurst was arrested after police said she had prescription pills on her without a prescription while on Straight Path in Dix Hills at 11:50 a.m. She was arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Louis on the loose
A 19-year-old man from Melville was arrested on May 26 after police said he stole a Louis Vuitton wallet containing cash and credit cards while at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington. He was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny.

West Pulaski Road story
On May 26, a 22-year-old man from Huntington Station was arrested after police said he had a quantity of cocaine in his possession while at a residence on West Pulaski Road in Greenlawn. He was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

An apple a day takes the car away
Police said an unknown person stole a 2011 Ford Focus from the parking lot of Applebee’s on Walt Whitman Road in Huntington on May 29.

Thief conductors a search
On May 29, at the Huntington Station train stop for the Long Island Rail Road, an unknown person approached a woman, grabbed her and took her backpack with cash and medication in it.

Drugs, cash and contraband were retrieved following the successful execution of a search warrant at a Sound Beach residence. Photo from SCPD

A local tip led to the arrest of a Sound Beach resident on drug charges.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini announced that an executed search warrant resulted in the recovery of drugs, cash and contraband, and the arrest of Robert Trent.

Trent, 25, who lives on North Country Road in Sound Beach, was charged with two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, third-degree criminal possession of marijuana and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Detectives from the 7th Precinct Special Operations Team, with help from the Emergency Service Section, Canine Section, 7th Precinct Crime Section and Asset Forfeiture, executed the search warrant and seized 100 grams of heroin, 210 grams of cocaine, 740 grams of MDMA, more than a kilogram of marijuana, a 9-mm weapon, ammunition, $26,000 in cash, scales, cell phones and other drug packaging paraphernalia.

Attorney information for Trent was not immediately available.

Since its inception on March 31, a new police tip line, 852-NARC, has received 415 tips and paid out six cash rewards. And since a new police drug-fighting initiative began on Dec. 15, focusing on executing search warrants, 89 have been executed, with 179 people arrested. More than $1 million in cash, more than $1 million in drugs and more than 50 weapons have been seized.

As a result of the latest drug bust, Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto, who said a resident tip contributed to the bust, has announced a poster contest to encourage residents to continue to be the eyes and ears that will keep streets safe.

“The police can’t be everywhere, and if we want to make our streets safer, it’s important to do what we can,” she said in an email. “That’s why we currently have reached out to high school students to develop a See Something, Say Something poster.”

The winner(s) will receive a $100 savings bond and will be announced at the civic’s next meeting on June 13. The poster(s) will be displayed throughout the community.

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People at an anti-drug forum stay afterward to learn how to use the anti-overdose medication Narcan. Above, someone practices spraying into a dummy’s nostrils. Photo by Elana Glowatz

We’ve been hit with some staggering figures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 28,000 overdose deaths in 2014 as a result of heroin or opioid abuse, the highest number on record. Last year alone Suffolk County suffered 103 fatal heroin overdoses. Suffolk tallied more heroin-related overdose deaths than any county in New York from 2009 to 2013, according to the New York State Opioid Poisoning, Overdose and Prevention 2015 Report.

Although local and national initiatives have come from all different angles to try to combat the rise in heroin and opioid abuse, we think lawmakers lack focus.

Most recently, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) endorsed a large legislation package that would review and update guidelines for prescribing opioids and pain medication and require a report to Congress on the availability of substance abuse treatment in the country, among many other provisions. While we applaud any earnest effort to combat the widespread problem, there needs to be more focus from one specific angle: prevention.

With treatment and recovery options across the North Shore and with the rate at which the county is now taking down drug dealers, enforcement and rehabilitation are not our biggest problems. Instead, more needs to be done to deter kids from ever considering to try drugs in the first place. While some schools have begun to work on this, working with police to hold Narcan training sessions and informational forums, students should be seeing more than just numbers and figures, police officers or counselors.

Tracey Budd, of Rocky Point, helped Suffolk County create a public service announcement, “Not My Child,” that has been shown in schools. Budd lost her son to a heroin overdose and her message is powerful. Kids need to see the struggles that addicts and their families go through to help hammer home how dangerous drugs are.

We also urge parents to be more aware and involved. You know your child — look, listen and ask questions. There are signs in mood, behavior, habit and appearance that could warn you that there’s a serious problem. And don’t be afraid to set boundaries or to talk both about drugs and other topics that may seem difficult or awkward. Many people are drawn to drugs because of an underlying emotional issue, but letting a teenager know that nonjudgmental ears are listening could be a solution.

Frederick Douglass once famously said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Building those stronger children is how we should tackle our country’s growing drug problem.

Congressman Lee Zeldin, joined by Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini, health professionals, community groups, parents, expresses his support for the package of bills coming to the House floor this week. File photo from Jennifer DiSiena

By Phil Corso

Congress is taking unprecedented steps to fight heroin and opioid abuse, and U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) brought the battle to Kings Park to spread the word.

In the company of other lawmakers and activists, Zeldin spoke at VFW Post 5796 last Thursday to discuss a package of bipartisan legislation the congressman has been pushing that addresses different angles of the disturbing upward trend in heroin and prescription opioid abuse on Long Island and across the country. The momentum from his stumping also helped propel several pieces of such legislation to a vote on the House floor by the following week.

The proposed legislation would review and update guidelines for prescribing opioids and pain medication, and require a report to Congress on the availability of substance abuse treatment in the country, among other provisions.

In his remarks last week, the congressman cited an alarming statistic from the Centers for Disease Control: more than 28,000 overdose deaths were recorded in 2014 as a result of heroin or opioid abuse — the highest number on record. Zeldin, who joined the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic in November, said Suffolk County recorded one of the highest rates of overdose deaths across the state, and needed a multi-pronged approach to address it.

“Next week, the House of Representatives is dedicating a full week to passing legislation aimed at addressing this epidemic, with a package of several bills to combat the growing heroin and opioid crisis,” Zeldin said. “Addiction and overdose deaths on Long Island and across our country are skyrocketing as a direct result of the increase in heroin and opioid abuse.”

In a phone interview, Zeldin said this was the first time the House had taken such unified measures to combat the problem, as its consequences were becoming impossible to ignore. The congressman used strong language when outlining the heroin addiction problem to drive it home.

“The rates that overdoses are increasing, and the fact that it’s not isolated to any one kind of community, has led many to describe this as an epidemic,” he said.

Joining Zeldin was Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini, who has been working on the front lines of the addiction problem, as Suffolk County suffered 103 fatal heroin overdoses in 2015 alone — more than double its neighboring Nassau County, which recorded 50. Sini also used the term “epidemic” to describe the fight he and his fellow officers have been facing.

“The heroin epidemic that our nation is facing is the number one public health and public safety issue here in Suffolk County,” Sini said. “Partnerships between local law enforcement and our federal representatives is a crucial tool in the battle against this scourge.”

And North Shore natives who felt the hurt of that “epidemic” stood beside Zeldin and Sini to throw their support behind legislative resolutions. Kim Revere, president of the Kings Park in the kNOw Community Coalition, and Linda Ventura, founder of the Thomas’ Hope Foundation, both said there were several different approaches lawmakers must take to address addiction, from prevention to rehabilitation.

“I believe wholeheartedly that prevention should begin at home,” said Revere, referring to the legislation as a wakeup call. “I am seeing many adults abusing alcohol and [prescription] drugs and that does not bode well for our children. I would like to see permanent evidence-based prevention programs implemented in school grades kindergarten through 12.”

Ventura, whose son Thomas died at age 21 from a drug overdose four years ago, said measures like Narcan, a medication which is administered to help reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, were important but not the only tool emergency responders should lean on.

“The United States needs to commit every resource imaginable to fight this insidious disease. The lifesaving tool Narcan needs to be accessible to all concerned to help save a life in the interim of an overdose to find treatment,” she said. “Treatment needs to be the appropriate level of care at the earliest intervention possible. Prevention — we must start educating and empowering our youngest of children with coping skills, relaxation techniques and communication skills.”

Event attendees learn how to use Narcan to counteract opioid overdoses. Photo by Giselle Barkley

By Giselle Barkley

Parents and students alike walked out of Mount Sinai High School knowing the ugly truth about heroin and opioid use and addiction. But they also walked away with a lesson about Narcan.

Event attendees learn how to use Narcan to counteract opioid overdoses. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Event attendees learn how to use Narcan to counteract opioid overdoses. Photo by Giselle Barkley

The school district held it’s first “The Ugly Truth” presentation on Tuesday in the Mount Sinai High School auditorium. Suffolk County Police Department officer George Lynagh, EMS officer Jason Byron and county Medical Examiner Michael Caplan tackled the origins of heroin and trends among addicts over the years. Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) also spoke at the event.

But residents didn’t simply learn about heroin on the Island, they also left with their own Narcan kits after Byron led a Narcan training class. According to Sgt. Kathleen Kenneally of the police department’s Community Response Bureau, Narcan, also known as Naloxone, was successfully administered around 530 times since the opiate antidote was introduced to the police department in July 2012.

Narcan, which reverses the effect of heroin or other opiate-based overdoses, can be administered via an injection or nasal spray. Mount Sinai resident Susan Matias said the spray is a friendly option for community members.

“Here, it’s introduced through the nasal passages — there’s no harm done, you’re not afraid of administering a needle and/or sticking yourself in the moment of chaos,” Matias said. “I think that’s why people are more open to partake and participate in the training.”

The nasal spray also makes it easier for people who still have a stigma about drug addicts and users. Byron reminded residents that the face of addicts has evolved and they’re not the only ones in need of drugs like Narcan.

“Sadly, the connotation is, we think people that could have overdosed are dirty when really it doesn’t have to be,” Byron said. “For opiate overdose, it doesn’t mean that it’s someone addicted to heroin. It could be somebody who’s possibly on pain management for cancer, end of life care, hospice care. It’s not the stereotypical — I hate to say it — junkie. That’s not what we’re seeing out there.”

According to Caplan, in the last few years, drug addicts who’ve overdosed on the substance have gotten younger and younger. The rate of opiate overdose deaths has increased by 140 percent since 2000. Synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, are responsible for 80 percent of these death rate increases.

Fentanyl, which some dealers or users will mix with another drug like heroin, is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Combining this drug with others can make it difficult when administering Narcan.

“One of the problems with Fentanyl is, because it’s so potent, because it acts so fast, you may need to give multiple doses of Naloxone,” Caplan said.

According to Lynagh, the police department is starting to see higher levels of Fentanyl. He added that in his more than three decades as a police officer, the drug is one of the more addictive drugs he has seen. Lynagh added that heroin was initially introduced to combat morphine addiction.

“We don’t have too many people addicted to morphine now,” Lynagh said. “We have this heroin addiction, so sometimes we mean to do something well or combat a drug or something bad, with something else that’s bad.”

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Anthony Forte, left, leaves behind his mother Debbie Carpinone, right, and 21-year-old brother Christopher. Photo from Debbie Carpinone

Anthony Michael Forte was a 24-year-old who got good grades in high school and went home to a loving family. He dreamed of a pursuing a career in the entertainment or food industries — until he died of a heroin overdose on May 2, 2015.

Forte is the new face of heroin addicts on Long Island.

While the drug problem continues to rise, his mother, Debbie Carpinone, is doing what she can to keep her spirits high and her son’s alive. Last October, Carpinone, of Port Jefferson, created Anthony’s Angels and established a $1,000 scholarship in Forte’s name.

The scholarship will help send one Mount Sinai High School senior to college this year. Carpinone, who works as a teaching assistant for the Mount Sinai Elementary School, wanted to pay it forward and give one student a chance to do the one thing her son couldn’t — go to school.

“He was so smart,” she said. “He wanted to go to school so bad, but he just couldn’t get his act together due to his addiction.”

The teaching assistant of 13 years sold 128 “Anthony’s Angels” T-shirts last year for the fundraiser of the same name. She raised $1,610 and also established a Facebook group. She approached Mount Sinai Elementary School Principal John Gentilcore in January regarding her son’s death and her scholarship, Gentilcore said.

He said it was easier for the small school district to spread the word about the scholarship. Forte was Carpinone’s eldest son, who went to Comsewogue High School until 2006, before he graduated from Newfield High School in 2008. His mother said even when he hit tough times, Forte remained loving and always had a smile on his face.

According to Carpinone, her son started using heroin in his junior year of high school. He told her about his addiction around two years later, and was in and out of sober houses.

“Talking about the loss of a child, if that doesn’t move you, if that doesn’t evoke a response to support and help … then I’d be surprised,” Gentilcore said. “She was honoring her son. To be able to do that in a way that helps others is a wonderful thing.”

Forte’s autopsy showed high levels of fentanyl in his system. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl is more potent than morphine. Carpinone said she discovered the identity of her son’s dealers, their address and their contact information. She provided Detective Ghyslaine McBean with this information, but said the detective hasn’t returned her call since November. McBean didn’t respond to media inquiries prior to publication.

While tackling the issue of drug use on Long Island is important for many communities across Long Island, acknowledging the evolution of heroin addicts and other drug abusers is also vital.

Carpinone said some people still think all heroin users are dirtbags or come from terrible homes, which is not the case. Tracey Budd, who lost her son to a heroin overdose four years ago, met Carpinone last year. Budd, who helps families dealing with addiction, said nowadays, anyone could become a drug addict.

“The majority of people I know [who are affected by a drug addiction] all come from good families or good homes,” Budd said. “The thing we learn in addiction is, we didn’t cause it.”

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Terrill Simmons mugshot from SCPD

By Elana Glowatz

A heroin task force has just busted four people living across the street from the John F. Kennedy Middle School in Port Jefferson Station, including one who was found trying to flush drugs down the toilet, authorities said Thursday.

Terrill Simmons mugshot from SCPD
Terrill Simmons mugshot from SCPD

Agencies within the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Heroin Task Force executed a search warrant at the two-story Jayne Boulevard home on Monday, the DA’s office said in a press release, seizing raw heroin, 100 grams of crack cocaine, 50 grams of powdered cocaine, scales, wax packets and other supplies.

Authorities arrested one of the suspects at the scene, 38-year-old Terrill E. Simmons, charging him with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of marijuana, criminal use of drug paraphernalia, endangering the welfare of a child and tampering with evidence, after he allegedly was found flushing heroin down the toilet as detectives entered the house.

Police have also charged a father-son pair, 48-year-old Daniel Dumas and 27-year-old Daryl Dumas, with criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. The son also faces charges of criminal sale of a controlled substance and criminal sale on or near school grounds.

Moneke Alexander mugshot from SCPD
Moneke Alexander mugshot from SCPD

A fourth suspect, 38-year-old Moneke Alexander, listed as a legal resident of Rhode Island, was charged with criminal possession, use of drug paraphernalia and endangering the welfare of a child.

A previous attorney for Daryl Dumas, Patchogue-based Daniel Henthorne, said he had not yet taken the defendant’s case, but “if we take the case then we’ll know more information.” Other attorney information for Dumas was not available. Alexander’s attorney, Riverhead-based Annette Totten, did not return a call seeking comment, while Simmons and the elder Dumas are both listed as representing themselves on the state court system’s online database and could not be reached for comment.

According to the DA’s office, each defendant pleaded not guilty to their respective charges in court on Wednesday.

The child endangerment charges stem from the alleged location of the drugs in the house: District Attorney Tom Spota said most of the heroin, crack and cocaine was found in boxes next to a 2-year-old’s bed — they were allegedly in the bedroom of Alexander’s son.

According to the DA’s office, Suffolk County Child Protective Services is caring for the child.

Daniel Dumas mugshot from SCPD
Daniel Dumas mugshot from SCPD
Daryl Dumas mugshot from SCPD
Daryl Dumas mugshot from SCPD

“Dealing drugs across the street from a school and the storage of these dangerous narcotics within feet of a child’s bed tell you all you need to know about these defendants’ disregard for everything other than getting and selling heroin and other drugs,” Spota said in a statement. “The shutdown of this operation is good news for the community.”

The heroin task force, which is made up of investigators from the DA’s office, county sheriff’s office and police department, had been investigating heroin trafficking within Brookhaven Town for several months at the time of the bust.

Bail was set at $15,000 cash or $30,000 bond for Alexander; $35,000 cash or $70,000 bond for Daniel Dumas; $75,000 cash or $150,000 bond for Daryl Dumas; and $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond for Simmons.