LAPORTE | LaPorte police keep reeling in heroin dealers and users at a dizzying pace, but there's been no let up in the number of overdoses and deaths.
Authorities made seven heroin-related arrests in the past two weeks and more are soon expected.
But as long as the high demand keeps up, drug dealers will continue to replace those who are detained, LaPorte Police Chief of Detectives Tom Thate said.
Many of the local dealers are selling to support their own habits.
Amber Malstaff, 29; Jack Heitz, 35 and Gabral and Dawn Robinson were all recently arrested for heroin possession.
Chelsea Patty, 22, and Edgar Camarillo, 19, were among the alleged dealers rounded up in the latest crackdown.
The LaPorte Metro Operations Unit has been aggressive in catching heroin dealers the past few years, but there's still plenty of heroin dealing going on.
The late July arrest of Benjamin Porter, a 30-year-old LaPorte dentist, illustrates part of the problem, police said.
He was allegedly found with a large amount of heroin during a traffic stop on the Indiana Toll Road in Portage and told officers he had consumed some prior to being pulled over.
Thate said he sees no relief from the problem in the foreseeable future, but believes long-term efforts to educate students about the dangers of the drug might be the best solution.
Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain agrees.
"This is going to continue to be a demand issue that we can't arrest ourselves out of," Lain said.
Lain said education and programs aimed at youth have to be in place to help reduce the demand for the drug that has grown from the inner cities to the suburbs.
Lain said his department has committed to combating heroin as well as other illegal substances while working with several drug and gang task forces.
"We are consistently making arrests with heroin and other substances. We have long recognized how lethal and pervasive it is in Porter County," Lain said.
Peter Villarreal, a veteran deputy prosecutor, told Lake County officials recently that heroin use has risen dramatically in their county also.