Vermont Reports Surge in Crack Cocaine as Law Enforcement Focuses on Heroin

As Vermont focuses its law enforcement efforts on heroin, use of crack cocaine is surging, Vermont Public Radio reports.

Since January 2014, when Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin devoted his State-of-the-State Address to the heroin epidemic, the state’s law enforcement, health officials and media have focused on that drug, according to Vice.

John Merrigan of Vermont State Police’s Narcotics Investigation Unit said he began to see a resurgence of crack last summer. “We had a lull in crack,” he said. “It wasn’t gone, but we definitely saw a decreased amount in Vermont for maybe the last eighteen months or two years.” During this period, reports of heroin use skyrocketed. “But for the last six months there’s been a resurgence [of crack],” Merrigan said. “We’ve been seeing it a lot more.”
He added that drug-related violence in Vermont has been increasing in the last year.

“More often than not, [crack is] distributed by the same people that distribute heroin,” Merrigan said. “You can buy heroin and crack together.” Drug traffickers come up from cities including New York, Hartford and Springfield, Massachusetts. In addition, people from Vermont drive down to the cities to pick up crack for themselves, and to sell it for a profit, the article notes.

Reporter Gina Tron, who wrote the Vice story, told Vermont Public Radio, “There’s a phenomenon called the ‘balloon effect’ where a focus on one drug can actually allow another drug market to blossom. It’s a characteristic of drug enforcement across the world. The demand for drugs doesn’t go away with enforcement, instead the illegal market just mutate and shifts. Dealers find ways around obstacles, and sometimes that manifest in the form of selling a different drug.”

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