MACHIAS – Washington County was Maine’s ground zero for the opioid epidemic. But being first with the problem doesn’t mean getting the necessary help to deal with it.
Now, the county’s top law enforcement officer said things just keep getting worse.
Washington County Sheriff Barry Curtis said just about any crime in the county, burglaries, thefts and domestic violence, can be linked to the opiate epidemic. He added “We’re having people coming from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts. They’re gang members. We’re not prepared for that.”
No longer is the term organized crime reserved for the mob or mafia. Now, cops are referring to street gangs such as MS 13, the Crips and the Bloods.
“We know about it. We know these people are here camping out in people’s homes. You know, forcing them to sell drugs. And they don’t touch it. They sit inside. These people are feeding them, housing them. It’s a problem. It’s a big problem.” stated Sheriff Curtis.
Curtis said he’s asked for help from the state and federal drug agencies, but just hasn’t gotten what they need. He added “We’re asking for it. We’re just not seeming to be heard on it.”
Additional funding will help put more deputies on the street, but the key may be in the hands of the county’s residents.
Sheriff Curtis said he’s convinced when more people begin to step forward and report suspicious activity, it will be a big step forward in the drug battle.