LANCASTER, Pa. --- Over the last couple years, the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office has come down hard on heroin dealers.
People convicted of dealing heroin or fentanyl-related heroin receive state prison sentences with max penalties requested for repeated offenders.
District Attorney Craig Stedman said they treat drug deliveries resulting in death, such as someone dying as a result of a fentanyl-related overdose, similarly to homicide cases.
However, Stedman said they believe the stronger penalties are creating a result he did not anticipate.
“Some of the dealers are shifting away from heroin and the opioids and shifting to meth. So it’s sort of good news, bad news type of thing,” said Stedman.
He said meth cases are currently outnumbering heroin cases for the first time in Lancaster County in a count of 30 major meth cases to 23 heroin cases.
30 major meth cases so far this year, Stedman says, is a historic rate for Lancaster County.
In 2013, there were only three major meth cases in Lancaster County
Despite those numbers, Stedman said they’re keeping the pedal down against heroin because of a higher rate of heroin-related overdose deaths as opposed to meth.
“We’ll take it in small increments and if it saves some lives and it seems like it is having that effect, then okay, we’ll follow the facts and pursue the meth dealers,” said Stedman.
Drug overdoses in Lancaster County are still on the rise.
However, drug overdose deaths are going down.
Stedman said he believes access to Narcan, a nasal spray first responders can use to try and save someone from an opioid-related overdose, deserves credit.
All of the municipal police departments in Lancaster County have access to Narcan, including the Lancaster City Bureau of Police
Lt. William Hickey said it’s a commonplace item found with officers on patrol, which is a big difference from it’s use 20 years ago.
“When I was a patrol officer, I saw Narcan administered in the field twice in the period of about eight years whereas Narcan now, you might see it used somewhere in the county every day,” said Lt. Hickey.
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