Dying to get high — Part Three

Publisher’s note: Susanville Police Officer Cameron Monahan was attending a Narcotics Investigation Course in San Diego, California, when Lassen News conducted this interview.

Lassen County Sheriff’s K9 Brinks poses with some of the drugs and drug paraphernalia discovered during a traffic stop near Doyle.
Photos submitted

So, how bad is the drug scene in Susanville?

“We know 2 milligrams of fentanyl is a lethal dose,” Susanville Police Officer Cameron Monahan said. “Fentanyl’s going up. Meth’s going up. People are mixing it. I don’t see the meth epidemic being minimized at all. I think they’re both going to grow. People don’t see meth as as big a problem because it doesn’t kill people as often, but the degradation it does to society in general and the crimes against the state rather than against the people — what it does and how it burdens the system, I would say they’re about equal.”

But fentanyl use has surpassed that of all other opioids — including heroin and oxycodone — in Susanville, according Monahan.

“The old heroin addicts — it’s pretty much all fentanyl these days,” Monahan said. “I haven’t seen heroin in Susanville in two years. It’s all been fentanyl.”

Brinks, the Lassen County Sheriff’s Offices’ K-9, poses with the weapons and drugs seized after a recent traffic stop. “Brinks and deputy (Kevin) Russell took a significant amount of drugs and dangerous weapons off the streets of our community,” said captain Kevin Jones. Photo submitted

While the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office reported finding drug users overdosed in their cars, Monahan said he’s only seen that a couple of times in the last two years.

He said there have been significant drug busts in Lassen County, but due to our small population, they pale in comparison to those in the big cities.

Monahan said the typical user fentanyl in Susanville obtains an M30 pill designed to mimic oxycodone.

Novice users around the country believe they’re taking a pharmaceutical prescription oxycodone pill, but in most cases they’re not — it’s fentanyl — and they wind up getting addicted to fentanyl.

The money and drugs discovered after a traffic stop in Westwood Thursday, Oct. 15. Photos submitted

He doesn’t know of that happening to anyone in Susanville, but he said, “That’s a pretty common introduction story for people. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than opium,” the parent drug of heroin and all other opioid drugs. “It’s 50 times more addictive than morphine. It’s incredibly addictive, and it’s only going to get worse — more people using it and the potency is going up because they’re coming up with different synthetic drugs.”

Monahan explained. “Fentanyl is a synthetic drug. It’s made in a lab, and it mimics the old drugs that were grown — like heroin came from opium (poppies) — it’s a natural occurring drug. Fentanyl is not a naturally occurring drug, although it mimics those. It’s significantly stronger and significantly more addictive. They’re coming up with new drugs, and they’re adding new drugs like tranquilizers into the fentanyl, and they’re mixing that in with the fentanyl, and it gets them even more high. So, they’re coming up with ways to increase the intensity.”

Over the last four years, Monahan said he used to make drug busts for heroin and meth, but now those arrests are mostly for fentanyl. He said that could be because that’s his focus these days, but it’s big in Susanville, Lassen County and the whole United States.

“There were 107,000 overdoses last year in the United States,” Monahan said.

Believe it or not, Monahan said at the conference he’s attending, he learned 75 percent of the fentanyl in the United States is coming through San Diego, the site of the narcotics training. He said some of the cartels are allegedly slowing down the amount of fentanyl coming into the country because they don’t want to be labeled as terrorist organizations. He said he didn’t know if that will prove to be true, but said the cartels are definitely buying the precursor chemicals from China, India and Canada, creating the drugs and bringing them into America.