Editor's Note: The last in a series of 17 town hall meetings conducted by St. Louis County police and drug prevention advocates was held Thursday evening at Eureka High School. To set the stage for local information about drug abuse and related crimes, Patch asked Eureka Police Chief Michael Wiegand to analyze the local situation. Check back to Eureka-Wildwood Patch for a series of articles about drug misuse and resulting issues.
"I-44 is a major interstate highway and a known drug corridor for narcotics traffickers to bring drugs into this county from Mexico—traffickers who transport the drugs throughout the Midwest," said Chief Michael Wiegand.
"It is unknown how bad the drug situation on I-44 is. There's no real way to know."
But Wiegand said they do not make more arrests on Interstate 44 for drugs compared to other violations, and that locations for drug-related offenses vary throughout the city.
"We made 15 drug arrests from May 15, 2011, through May 15, 2012, mostly for marijuana," he said. "Marijuana is most common here, followed by prescription drugs taken from medicine cabinets and other person's prescription medications."
Wiegand said drug possessors are arrested, or given a summons depending on the type of drug. He said some arrests require physical arrest based on type or quantity. "No one gets transferred to the county jail unless the drug in a scheduled drug that is a felony for just the mere possession or the quantity is so large, it is a felony."
Eureka's police officers receive training at the police academy and in-service training to identify types of drugs commonly used in communities, as well as signs of use. They also apply their canine officers' teams to various drug analysis situations.
Wiegand said he, , and other area police chiefs, a year ago committed to doing three community town hall meetings. But he said interest mushroomed into six times more community gatherings once they started. "The danger of drugs is something we all must be aware of. We must discuss openly with our children about drugs and the dangers they present," he said.
Wiegand said he is concerned about the increasing numbers of heroin users among young people in St. Louis County communities. "Youths from middle class to affluent neighborhoods across the region are trying heroin. Teens are smoking and snorting heroin instead of injecting it, which makes it seem less dangerous."
Parents need to educate themselves about this and other drugs, he said, which was the focal point of meeting called "Curiosity+Heroin=Not Even Once."