Chasing the Dragon: A Law Enforcement Perspective

Law enforcement personnel discuss the problem of opioid addiction, which is portrayed in the film "Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict." The documentary was released by the FBI and DEA in an effort to combat the growing epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse. The film’s goal is to educate students and young adults about the dangers of addiction.

Video Transcript

Laura Walker (FBI Special Agent): Prescription pills and opiates are definitely becoming an increasing problem that we see. You know, not only involving the crimes we investigate, actual drug diversion. But it, you know, involves other things too. People start committing other crimes when they start seeing, you know, the need that they have to get these drugs. I think the worst part of it is that it is starting at, you know, with kids at a very young age. Kids that are, you know, middle school even are starting to find out what these pills are and they, they might think it’s fun at first, and then, you know, you talk to them a year, two years later, and you realize it’s a different story. I mean, just the degree people go to get these pills is insane. I mean, I’ve seen people that drive seven hours one way every month each way, so that’s a 14 hour round trip, just to get these pills because you know. So you need a job. You can’t work your job anymore because all you care about is driving up to get these pills and, I mean you, your life is over because all you can focus on is how do I get these drugs.

Aaron Weeter (FBI Special Agent): We’ve done search warrants in huge homes, multi-million dollar houses, fancy cars. And we’ve done search warrants in houses where there is no food in the refrigerators. I remember one individual, subject. I arrested his mother and his father. And [I] also arrested him. He was injecting OxyContin, as many as 35 a day intravenously, and he was using creek water, just out of a local stream, ‘cause he was living out in the woods.

David Ehrhardt (Detective, Prince William County Police): Everybody thinks they pop a few pills, it’s no big deal. You, young kids out there, you better just be, be very, very aware of what’s going on with these pills. You can get addicted with one pill and for the rest of your life it will absolutely ruin you. It doesn’t discriminate against you; young, or old, or you’re black, or you’re white, or you’re a male or you’re a female. I’ve arrested from 12 years old to 86 years old. I’ve arrested grandma and grandpa. I’ve arrested a young boy that takes the pills from his parent’s cabinet and takes them to school and gives them to some other kids in school and somebody gets sick, gets rushed to a hospital and thank God doesn’t die. I’ve worked probably at least two dozen overdose deaths that are hundred percent related to prescription meds where it’s too late, they are already dead.

Andrew Lenhart (FBI Special Agent): And a lot of students went down the road, a lot of young people go down the road of trying the drug for recreational purposes and they don’t understand the devastation that it has to their own life and the life of lives of their parents. I should add the victims of the crime include infants. We have had subjects who were pregnant women, who gave birth to oxycodone, opiate addicted babies and infants. They even had to have the baby in jail. It’s a growing problem as well.

Cailin Smith (Detective, Prince William County Police): Seen a lot of overdoses, a lot of deaths. The scary thing is it’s getting younger and younger. It used to be the heroin overdoses seem like they were all adults. Lately, they’ve been getting younger and younger, low 20s, even into their high teens. Because I’ve talked to hundreds of heroin addicts, or opiate addicts, and they all tell me the same thing. If they could do anything, one thing different, they never would have started in the first place. That’s their one regret that they all have is that they started when they were young and once you’re an addict, you’re an addict for life and the best way to avoid that is just never do it.

Chuck Bruggeman (Special Agent, Virginia State Police): We’re seeing a dramatic shift in how it’s affecting the lives of young people. They’re experimenting with friends at parties and they think it’s safe to take pills from the medicine cabinet or a friend. And during a one week period we had nine fatal overdoses in a three jurisdiction area, and over the Christmas holiday I read two obituaries of people that I had arrested for prescription fraud and related offenses. Their parents buried ‘em, they were young, 20 something years old.

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