Police See Drug Issues as 'Domestic Terrorism'

Wilmington Police Chief Michael Begonis and others speak out on the topic of drug abuse in the first of a five part series on Wilmington Patch.

Editor’s Note: The following is the first story in a five-part series on various issues related to drug use in Wilmington. Check back throughout the upcoming days for more stories on the topic.

The Wilmington Police Department handles a wide variety of issues on a daily basis. But one of those issues has become too common in recent months, and it's something police are hoping to put a stop to.

“Illicit drug trafficking is a form of domestic terrorism to some extent,” said Wilmington Police Chief Michael Begonis. “It is preying on folks who are more susceptible and who need a better life. And it’s something that we need to deal with head on.”

There have been a wide variety of incidents in recent months with ties to prescription drugs and heroin use, leading many residents in town to question how much of a drug problem Wilmington has.

While several town officials acknowledged that substance abuse is something the town must attempt to curtail, they also admitted they are not the only town in the state or country seeing an uptick in this area.

“We need to figure this out not just as a town, but as a country,” said Board of Selectmen chairman Michael Newhouse. “I think folks need to be cognizant of it. We have to do anything we can to deter the use of any kind of illegal substances. We need to take care of not only ourselves, but the young people in our society especially.”

Begonis said that while he does not believe there has been a dramatic spike in the number of drug problems his department has dealt with in recent years, there are two aspects that have changed significantly.

The Chief said drug use is more prevalent among teenagers and college-aged residents than he has ever seen. He also said the abuse of prescription drugs nationwide is higher than at any point during his career.

Though there is a long list of reasons why this could be the case, Begonis said he believes the decriminalization of marijuana is one of them. He believes that when that law was passed in Massachusetts, it sent the wrong message about drug use.

In many cases prescription drug abuse is closely tied with heroin use, an issue that has led to multiple overdoses, including fatal ones, in Wilmington over the last several months. Heroin is a cheaper alternative to prescription drugs, so Begonis said when young drug users do not have the financial means to continue abusing prescription medications, they often turn to the cheaper, more potent alternative.

What concerns town officials, including Public Health Director Shelly Newhouse, the most is how young many of the Wilmington residents are who have overdosed or been arrested in recent months.

“Anything that hits our youth the way substance abuse has is disturbing. It’s troubling, and we would like to see what we can do to stop it,” said Newhouse. “With the recent headlines of overdoses and arrests that we’ve seen, it’s something that the Health Department has to take a look at.”

Town Manager Michael Caira, who has worked in town for more than two decades, said he believes there has been an increase in drug use and abuse in the last year.

“We are seeing what appears to be an uptick, but it’s consistent with what’s being seen nationwide,” said Caira. “I think the fact that it’s reaching what people believe to be the safe suburbs at an increased rate is certainly disturbing to me, and to everybody. People need to be educated on the signs so they can be more diligent in terms of trying to dissuade folks from making these terrible decisions.”

Shelly Newhouse is in the initial stages of forming a drug coalition, something that Wilmington Patch will touch on later in the week as a part of this series of stories.

Begonis said his department will continue its attempt to find ways to slow and stop illegal drug use.

“Wilmington does not have a drug problem per se,” said Begonis. “We don’t have open drug dealing in the streets like other cities have a real issue with and are constantly battling. We’re obviously aware of the issues that are happening in Wilmington, and we’re dealing with them as appropriately as possible and in the confines of the law. This is something that every law enforcement department in America is dealing with.”

Editor's Note: The quote in the third paragraph of the article was corrected to indicate that Police Chief Michael Begonis said "Illicit drug trafficking" and not "Illicit drug use" as was originally written.

Dudley Escobar September 20, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I'm glad to see there are so many people who acknowledge the harm caused by the War on Drugs. Recognizing these truths is not the equivalent of condoning drug use, and does not preclude teaching our children the dangers involved in using them. But it's wrong to accept the War on Drugs as something beneficial simply because you're opposed to drug use, when there is so much evidence that drug prohibition has been a disastrous policy for this country, has devastated our inner cities, has packed our prisons with nonviolent offenders and has led to increased use of stronger, more dangerous and less pure drugs. End the madness!
Rick237 September 26, 2012 at 10:04 PM
The major drugs in the world — alcohol, cocaine, morphine (heroin), and cannabis — are valuable medicines which have served mankind for thousands of years. Medicinal plants and extracts are also the safest drugs. Preparations of coca, opium, cannabis, and alcohol have been safely produced and consumed for centuries. These much-valued herbal medicines also have religeous, ceremonial, and recreational uses. They belong in every home and medicine kit unless the homeowner chooses otherwise. The reasons why medicinal plants and extracts are illegal are money and power. They are illegal because they can be produced and sold for pennies by peasant farmers and poor people. On a level field, Big Pharma (The Government Drug Cartel)cannot compete with peasant farmers.
Rick237 September 26, 2012 at 10:06 PM
In a free market, the cost of basic drugs would be pennies. If given a choice, people would choose safe, effective, and inexpensive natural drugs over the expensive and often dangerous synthetics that they are currently being forced to buy. If freedom is restored, Big Pharma would would lose several hundred billon dollars in sales every year. Likewise, law enforcement would lose a similar amount because they would no longer be allowed to assault, rob, and arrest millions of peaceful people or kill those who resist. Likewise, they would no longer be authorized to murder peasant farmers or poison their land, livestock, and families. In addition to all these crimes that are currently being committed in the name of the law, the drug war steals a half trillion dollars every year from taxpayers and consumers . It is the largest armed robbery in history. Accidental drug overdoses are the predictable consequence of all the adulterated, improperly labeled, and improperly manufactured drugs produced by the current illegalization war. Legalized, pure drugs packaged in safe doses are 100% safe. It is impossible to accidently overdose on properly labeled drugs that are packaged in safe doses just like it is impossible to accidently jump off a tall bridge.
Rick237 September 26, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Products such as "Meth" and "Crack" are the results of drug Prohibition just like alcohol Prohibition produced "bathtub gin" and "white lightning". Prohibition wars produce more concentrated, potent, and dangerous subtances because they are easier to conceal from the authorities. Concentrated, potent intoxicants take up less space. Everyone who supports drug Prohibition is personally responsible for all the harm that has been associated with these drugs just like they are personally responsible for all the harm associated with adulterated and improperly labeled drugs produced by their violent interference into the free market. They are personally responsible because they use employ armies of guns and widespread violence in order to prevent their fellow humans from buying safe drugs packaged in safe doses. The biggest danger to young people and everyone else is to murdered, assaulted, robbed, and/or arrested by the armies of government and private thugs who have been produced by the current Prohibition war which is, in fact, a war mainly against the young and poor.
MsJennie November 25, 2012 at 12:29 PM


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