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Abilene police attribute increase in crime to drug use

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The Abilene Police Department says the steady uptick in drug use is to blame for a certain portion of the city's crimes.

Although the year-to-date drug arrests are down, the number of suspects arrested and charged with delivery/manufacturing of illegal drugs has nearly doubled. Fourteen people were arrested for the charge during the first give months of 2015 – 27 were arrested during the same time period in 2016.

"Most of the violence we are seeing, especially this year as it relates to violence and murders, have been related either to illicit drugs [or] family violence," Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge said during a news conference last week.

Standridge told KTXS that along with methamphetamine use, the Abilene Police Department is seeing an increase in heroin.

According to police records, the department has conducted two major heroin busts in the last six months, resulting in the seizure of more than 330 grams of the substance.

Richard Kennedy is a drug recovery specialist at 180 House, a halfway house in Abilene for recovering drug addicts, and he said he has seen the uptick. Currently, the 180 House is just under full-capacity of 150 residents.

Kennedy said as more people check-in, more are claiming heroin as their drug of choice.

"As people who have become opioid dependent have a harder and harder time getting their supplies of prescription medication, they will go to heroin," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said Abilene isn't seeing the epidemic-level numbers of heroin users seen in the northeast, but it has been increasing.

"Heroin has become more prevalent," Kennedy said. "There hasn't been a steady or consistent supply of heroin in the city of Abilene – that may change as the demand gets bigger and the profitability becomes larger."

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