Oregon heroin death underscores epidemic

Oregon heroin death underscores epidemic

Oregon heroin death underscores epidemic

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by David Krough

kgw.com

Posted on May 4, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Updated Saturday, May 5 at 10:34 AM

PORTLAND – Five foreign suspects face federal drug charges stemming from the heroin overdose death of a woman in Keizer last month.

Federal, state and local agents last month made several searches in Washington, Multnomah, Marion counties, and Vancouver. Agents seized over four pounds of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, guns, and over $20,000.

On Friday, Sergio Quezada Lopez, 33, Braulio Acosta Mendoza, 34, Jose Romo Gonzalez, 22, Jose Aldan Soto, 30, and Julian Hernandez Castillo, 31, were all indicted on federal charges for conspiracy in the death of 21-year-old Laurin Putnam.

“This is an exceptional case wherein we were able to follow the heroin supply chain from the victim’s arm to the doorstep of an out of state source of supply whom she had never even met,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes said.

It was the fourth deadly overdose in Keizer this year, officials said.

It was a part of a broader strategy on the 60 percent spike in heroin deaths in Oregon in just the past year.

Heroin led all overdose deaths with 143 last year, a 59 percent increase from the previous year, according to Oregon State Medical Examiner Dr. Karen Gunson. The second highest number of heroin deaths, 131, was in 2000.

“At this rate, 2012 will see over a hundred lives lost from heroin,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Amanda Marshall said. “This has to stop. We have to work together to expand prevention, treat addiction and hold accountable those who introduce this poison into our communities. Oregonians need to understand that heroin has saturated our state. Too many lives have been lost to this deadly drug whose victims represent a-cross section of society.“

A conviction on the federal charges for anyone with a prior conviction could lead to life in prison with no possibility of release, and up to a $20,000,000 fine. No prior felony drug conviction means a mandatory minimum prison term is twenty years and up to a $10,000,000 fine.

Last fall, police in Troutdale broke up what they said was a drug trafficking ring operating throughout the Portland area after a 24-year-old Mt. Angel man was found dead in a car in the parking lot.

The source of the drugs found in that car was eventually traced to suspected ringleader Leoplodo Montiel-Cervantes and four other unidentified suspects, police said.

All five defendants Friday remained detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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