By Katie Demeria
The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force is calling for community action after two Frederick County residents were charged in connection with the region's 11th heroin-related death Tuesday.
Andrew B. Lowder, 31, of Frederick County, was found at a residence on Apple Pie Ridge Road early Tuesday morning, according to a Virginia State Police news release.
After conducting an investigation into Lowder's death, officials charged Brandi Marple, 28, and Dennis K. Getz, 37, with one felony count of distribution of heroin each.
They are being held at the Northwest Regional Adult Detention Center.
The task force's coordinator, Virginia State Police Supervisory Special Agent Jay Perry, said his team has been working hard to track down heroin providers after each death.
"On the most recent ones, about five out of the last seven that we have been able to get called out to and investigate, we've been able to make an arrest within the first 24 hours," Perry said. "Typically, if we can get on kind of quick, before the word gets out, we can track them down."
Perry also has officers in Baltimore, Md., which is where most of the heroin in the area is coming from, he said.
The sheer number of suppliers in Baltimore may account for the surge in recent overdoses of the highly addictive drug, Perry added.
"They're not getting the same purity levels. One time it will be very impure and they will inject more, then the next time they inject the same amount but it's much more pure," he said.
Despite this attempt to limit the drug's accessibility, Perry said there is only so much law enforcement officers can do to tackle the heroin epidemic.
"We're not going to arrest our way out of this problem, it's more than a law enforcement issue," he said. "I believe we are doing everything that we can do right now. We're looking for these people to wake up and quit using this stuff."
"If somebody has the wherewithal to stick a needle in their arm not knowing if they're going to live or die, us putting them in jail -- I don't know how effective that is," he continued.
The community now needs to come together, Perry added, to try to put an end to heroin use in the area. Education is an important part of that effort, including conversations as simple as those between parents and their children. Encouraging those who are currently using to seek treatment is also crucially important, he said.
"All facets of the community need to come together and try to put an end to this," Perry said.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org