VIDEO: ‘No secret’ of large heroin supply on Tucson’s streets

Heroin user caught on camera, TPD seizing more heroin this year

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Imagine walking out to your car and finding a man holding a syringe with heroin.

That was the reality for one Tucson man Wednesday, June 12. Seishin Yarbrough recorded the encounter on video and shared it with KOLD News 13 to shed light on what is happening in the city.

Man found with syringe outside Midtown apartments

“When you’ve got someone shooting up heroin not even three feet from your home, in your own driveway, it’s kind of a wake-up call," Yarbourgh said.

Yarbrough lives in midtown, off Fort Lowell Road and Mountain Avenue. He said he found the man in his carport, just steps from his home, where he lives with his fiance and 6-month-old daughter.

“That syringe was filled. It was dirty," Yarbrough said. “I was in shock, you know. I nearly tripped over the guy.”

In the video, you hear the man tell Yarbrough he was getting high and “trying to get well.”

“It’s kind of scary. It makes you sad," Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough said he has seen drug activity in the area before, but nothing so close to home. He said he called the Tucson Police Department to report what he found, but worries this kind of activity won’t end anytime soon.

“This is not the first time something like this has happened and I know it won’t be the last.”

Unfortunately, the reality is, Yarbrough is right.

“Heroin is cheaper than it ever has been and the reason for that is an enormous supply," said Tucson police Captain John Leavitt, Commander of the Counter Narcotics Alliance.

He said heroin is the most misused opioid across the country.

It’s a supply that is no secret on the streets of Tucson. Leavitt said the Counter Narcotics Alliance seized three times more heroin in 2017 than the year before. In 2018, that number was multiplied by seven.

“We seized four times as much as we did in 2017. So it’s seven-fold increase in two years in the seizures we’re making," Leavitt said. "It’s everywhere and it’s very cheap.”

We showed Yarbrough’s video to Leavitt for his opinion.

“Well, honestly, that person in the video needs to get treatment," Leavitt said. “Heroin is a treatable drug misuse problem. There’s several very good protocols, treatment programs available that are affordable. So, that’s the first thing I see when I see that.”

Leavitt said Tucson has a drug deflection program that allows officers to get people like the man in the video help, instead of turning to the criminal justice system.

“He could’ve died. I could’ve walked out here and just found a dead body," Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough hoped sharing the video would be a wake-up call for others in the community. He believed finding the man when he did and scaring him off may have saved his life.

“There’s programs, there’s better things out there in the world, but shooting up heroin is not the answer," Yarbrough said.

Community Resources:

- 24/7 assessment, support, and treatment for people looking to stop using heroin and other opioids.

- (520) 202-1786 (24 hours a day)

- Community workshops, trainings, referrals, consultation, and risk reduction materials to individuals, families, and organizations in order to prevent HIV, Hepatitis C, overdose, and the perpetuation of stigma.

- (480) 442-7086

Pima County Health Department- Behavioral Health

- Behavioral health treatment includes services for disorders such as substance abuse, mental health issues, and other addictions.

- For help with a behavioral health crisis, call (520) 622-6000 or 1-866-495-6738.

- COPE offers outpatient behavioral health services to adults with serious mental illnesses (SMI), general mental health (GMH) issues, and/or substance use issues.

- (520) 792-3293

For more programs and facilities available, click here.

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