Police: Heroin busts reminder of drug's presence

A heroin bust near a Grants Pass middle school Wednesday netted six arrests and is a reminder that the drug remains present in Southern Oregon, police said.

Grants Pass Department of Public Safety officers searched a home in the 700 block of Northwest Park Drive just after 2 p.m.

Inside they found materials to weigh, package and sell heroin. Grants Pass police did not return calls Thursday asking how much heroin was inside the home.

Arrested were five people who live at the home. Daryl Payne, 47, and James Raymond Laurie, 23,were charged with possession, manufacture and delivery of heroin within 1,000 feet of a school.

Carlton Alexander Young, 41, was arrested on charges of possession of heroin, a probation violation for a burglary and a probation violation for a previous vehicle theft.

Kristina Maria Johnston, 21, was charged with possession of heroin, as was 75-year-old Victor Raymond Amato.

Eugene resident Josiah Beau Randall, 29, was charged with possession of heroin.

The house is located next to North Middle School; however, no schoolchildren were at the school when the search occurred. Teachers and faculty members were warned before the bust, Grants Pass police said.

The arrests should remind the public that heroin continues to surface in Southern Oregon, according to Medford police Deputy Chief Tim George.

"We continue to see it in Medford," George said. "For the past couple of years our officers have seen more of it as methamphetamine has gotten more difficult to obtain now that cold medicines are sold behind the counter."

To be sure, methamphetamine and marijuana continue to be the hottest sellers in the local drug market, George said.

Overall drug crimes have continued to climb in Medford for 2009.

According to Medford police, drug reports are up 36 percent over last year. So far, the department has logged 587 drug cases, versus 432 last year.

"We are on pace to take 300 more drug cases this year," George said.

George declined to speculate on what is causing the increase in drug reports.

"It could be a lot of things, including the economy and the fact that more people are turning to drugs and alcohol in times of stress," George said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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