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Heroin Problem in Hazleton Gets National Attention

HAZLETON – Alter Street is known for its diverse businesses, but a story in this weekend’s New York Times’ magazine described the area as a hub for heroin trouble in the city.

The lengthy report featured a mother who helped state narcotics agents with a drug bust in Hazleton, as well as the woman’s struggle with addiction that led to jail time.

Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea told Newswatch 16 that the report was fair, and it should be an eye-opener for residents and business owners in the city.

“It actually brings out a compassionate side and anybody who reads it recognizes, you feel bad for someone who is addicted. You feel equally as bad for community that is faced or plagued with this issue,” said DeAndrea. “It doesn`t mean that the community should just get fed up. Just keep trying and we`re all in this together.”

DeAndrea said the writer was interested in Hazleton, when the state Attorney General’s mobile street crime unit started helping city officers with drug busts and arrests.

One woman, who did not want share her full name, said the national reports have hurt her hometown’s reputation.

“(People) make fun of it, because of the drugs, because how deplorable it is,” the woman said. “Because of what they did to their houses, the businesses and the streets.”

Kevin Wong said he was surprised when he went to college in Philadelphia and found a course focused on his hometown.

“Temple has this class called The War in Hazleton. It is about immigration problems and general problems and what not about Hazleton,” said Wong.

DeAndrea told Newswatch 16 that his police force is understaffed, but the city is committed to combating drugs and crime in Hazleton.



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