One Pill can Kill

—Fentanyl found in Cresco
“Heroin takes you to the brink of death. Dealers add fentanyl and tell them this stuff will kill you. The users say, ‘I gotta have some!’” ~ Police Chief Tim Ruroden
CRESCO/HOWARD Cty. - Howard County, Iowa was lucky for a long time. 
Lucky until recently.
Cresco Police Chief Tim Ruroden announced the department had its first fentanyl bust recently.
“It has probably been in the community, but now it’s showing its ugly head. It’s an open case. I can’t talk about that specifically,” he said of the bust.
He was able to talk about illegal narcotics in general. “Over the years, we have confiscated heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and a lot of opiates — over the counter pain killers. We’ve also come across ecstasy  and synthetic drugs. Now we’ve seen fentanyl.”
Finding narcotics
Sam Fotiadis is the CPD’s narcotics officer. He has been with the department for three years. He has more extensive narcotics training than other officers. “If anyone approaches me for extra training, I try to get it for them,” Ruroden said.
“In March, Sam and Blake Welper attended a three-day conference. After that, they were able to pick up on some cues and got illegal narcotics (fentanyl) off the streets.”
The department has several ways of finding illegal drugs.
~ “We’ll have people bring in the info, such as neighbors. They don’t want that in their neighborhood.”
~ Information is shared between other agencies. “We keep up on intelligence. Drug trafficking information is passed on to us from different parts of the state.”
~ “Officers learn to just watch people and doing further investigation,” the chief explained. 
Howard County Sheriff Tim Beckman agreed that informants are how they learn of dealers or users.
One of the newest trends in narcotics is vape pens. Beckman said, “The vape pens are popular with teenagers. Anything can be put in them, and they are odorless. The only way you can tell if it is narcotics is to take it apart, and for that, you need probable cause.
Arrest warrants
Law enforcement likely knows where narcotics are being sold or used, but they can’t just barge into a residence. They have to have probable cause.
“One time, I turned the corner and saw a marijuana plant in the front window. That was my visual. I took a picture and obtained a search warrant. We found heroin and other items. That south sun really makes them grow,” Ruroden smiled.
Probable cause can also be reported by someone who stopped by the house and observed something. 
The Cresco Police Department has even gotten calls from postal carriers and other federal entities. Someone was caught having marijuana mailed to them.
A barking dog complaint may be the start of an investigation. The officer goes to the door, and the owner opens the door. A pipe can be seen on the coffee table. That is in plain view. The chief explained, “We detain the house until we get a search warrant.”
Sometimes that warrant will produce evidence related to another person or persons. Warrants are then issued for those residences. The CPD has done multiple search warrants in one day before.
Beckman added it is getting harder for the Sheriff’s Office to operate. “It gets tougher all the time. The laws make us do traffic stops, but we can’t even ask if people have drugs in the car. If you smell marijuana you can do something.”
Twenty years ago, Beckman noted it was easier to find dealers. They would steal anhydrous from farmers to cook methamphetamine. 
“Nobody does that any more, which is good, but back then the people doing it would screw up and we’d be able to catch them.”
Why do drugs?
Chief Ruroden commented, “Ninety-eight percent of first-time methamphetamine users get hooked. 
“When you get a hug from a child or grandchild, that produces 500 mg of endorphins. The first hit of meth is 10,000 mg of endorphins.” 
Users continue to chase that euphoria. Fentanyl usually comes in pill form and then the dealers grind it up and add it to other narcotics to make them stronger.
Ruroden stated, “Heroin takes you to the brink of death. Dealers add fentanyl and tell the users, ‘This stuff will kill you.’ The users say, ‘I gotta have some.’”
Locals will be happy to know that all of the Cresco Police Department and Howard County Sheriff’s Office cars, along with the booking room, are supplied with Narcan, an opioid overdose treatment. Beckman doesn’t think any officers have had to use it on victims, but it is available if needed.
It is also available for officers, in case they come in contact with narcotics and go down.
Judicial system
After a suspect is arrested, the court system takes over. The judicial system is taxed beyond its ability to house them. The jail system is full and costly.
“It takes a whole network of people who care about their community to curb this activity,” Police Chief Ruroden said.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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