CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A deadly form of heroin that hit Chicago last fall is now causing alarm a thousand miles from here, and police believe Chicago gangs are responsible for bringing it there.
As FOX 32’s Larry Yellen reports, the heroin crisis has surfaced in Williston, North Dakota.
Chicago's gangs have been dealing heroin at an open-air drug market on the city's West Side for years. Now, there's evidence that Chicago’s heroin highway stretches all the way to Williston, North Dakota.
Sylvester McCurry, an alleged member of the Vice Lords in Chicago, has been arrested in Williston. Investigators believe the 21-year-old south sider and five other people were part of a heroin ring which contributed to one death and nine overdoses last month.
“It would make sense for the drug sellers to go somewhere where there was going to be very little competition,” said Loyola University Criminal Justice Professor Art Lurigio.
Lurigio says towns like Williston, which benefited from the oil boom a few years ago, are logical targets for drug dealers. They have lots of young men, with lots of cash.
Lurigio says if McCurry was delivering heroin from the Vice Lords, he was surely sending the proceeds back to gang leaders.
“They coudn't come back to Chicago if they withheld those profits. It wouldn't be safe for them to come back,” Lurigio said.
Last October, Chicago's West Side was hit with dozens of overdoses blamed on the use of "China White," a pure form of heroin laced with the painkiller Fentanyl. Investigators in Williston believe ‘China White’ is also responsible for the overdoses there.
McCurry's lawyer declined to comment on the case, other than saying that he expects McCurry to plead not guilty next month, and he will vigorously contest the charges.
The overdose victims in Williston ranged in age from 25 to 45 and most were found passed out in homes, motels or cars.