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Sheriff says heroin problem ‘epidemic’

Neighborhood tips lead to Springfield arrest, drug seizure.

The heroin problem is Clark County is becoming “epidemic,” according to the local sheriff, with more drug arrests and more overdose deaths because of its availability.

On Tuesday, Clark County Sheriff’s deputies, in cooperation with Springfield police and the R.A.N.G.E drug task force, arrested Shane Ramey, 41, on felony counts of drug trafficking and having a weapon as a felon. His arrest happened after the execution of two warrants on West Mulberry Street that resulted in the seizure of heroin and crack cocaine.

It’s just one of many drug cases across the county, said Sheriff Gene Kelly.

“It’s affecting all of us and our quality of life,” Kelly said. “No one police agency can attack this alone. It’s epidemic.”

Ramey pleaded not guilty to the charges in Clark County Municipal Court on Wednesday. Judge Eugene Nevius set his bond at $50,000. The defendant’s father, Gurly Ramey, came to the hearing to support his son. Shane Ramey was booked into the Clark County Jail in 2007 on a murder charge, for which he was later acquitted by a jury. Gurly Ramey said he never expected to find his son behind bars again, and he said he believes he is innocent this time, too.

“I just know my son. I just feel in my heart it’s not in him to do anything like this,” he said. “(Ramey) was in a place where there was some drugs, and he’s the guy they pointed the finger at.”

Kelly said heroin-related arrests happen “almost weekly.” Many of the cases involve people stealing items and scrap metal to sell in order to buy the drug. The sheriff said it can sell for as low as $10 a bindle, or when the drug is wrapped first in paper, and then in aluminum foil.

Overall, arrests in the county are up 10 percent year-to-date, and Kelly said heroin and drug enforcement likely contributes to that number.

“We’re out here arresting these people,” he said. “It’s not just an inner-city, Mulberry Street problem. It’s everywhere.”

The number of drug-related deaths are also on the rise in Clark County. In 2012, there were 39 drug-related deaths, a record high. Of those, 17 involved heroin. There have been 22 drug-related deaths as of August 2013, of which seven involved heroin, according to Dr. Richard Marsh, county coroner.

The Mulberry Street drug bust came after the sheriff’s office received several neighborhood complaints regarding drug trafficking. Drug activity can be reported by calling (937) 328-2560.

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