Heroin Problem in Hazleton Gets National Attention

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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.


  • ValleyGirl

    This issue has spilled over into the valley and surrounding areas. I live here. I’ve seen it going on. My son attends the high school. Addiction has touched our family too and has no racial, sex or social class boundaries. We were considered a typical middle class family. Scumbags come in all colors, sizes and sexes. So do addicts. Becoming addicted is a choice which leads to being a disease if one continues to make the choice to stick a needle in their body. Most of these addicts are adults who cannot be forced into treatment. They have to want to go there and be willing to work hard to make a change. They can’t do that if the influence of the addiction is readily available. The users aren’t really the criminals. I don’t have a solution to stopping the scumbag dealers. I wish I did. The scumbag dealers don’t give a rat’s axx where their customers money comes from. Nor do they care what the poison they peddle does to a human bbeing and their families. Easy money for the dealer…eventual death to the user. But that’s OK to the scumbag dealer because there will alway be another user looking to score a couple bags. Hazleton used to be a nice small city. Now, it’s a place to be avoided unless necessary to go there. That’s a real shame.

  • Harry Fieger

    Start sending a message to these scumbags by giving real punishments to the dealers. Start giving the death penalty to anyone caught selling this stuff. That’s what they are doing to the buyers and the communities they live in. Hang one of them on Broad Street and see how quickly the problem lessens

    • Paul C

      Better yet Harry we could just give you some rope, guns, and ammunition and you could go out and do it yourself if you think that will really solve the problem. Happy hunting!

  • Jeanie

    My daughter passed away from overdosing on heroin….and my other daughter is struggling with it. I truly believe it’s a matter of being a strong person or a weak person. If you can get through life with determination..no matter what hurdles get in your way..you are strong. Others are not so strong..so they self-medicate to cope with life & all its ups & downs. We all need an escape sometimes….it depends on how you want to escape. Also….it depends on how you LOOK at life…negatively or positively. Although heroin is a physical addiction…I strongly believe it’s also mental….what prompts you to stick a needle in your arm? Escape from mental pain…period.

    • Observed

      That’s right happy people don’t hurt themselves…..it’s not natural. Did you ever notice that heroin…..is spelled like hero in………but what comes out is exactly the opposite.

    • MsM

      I am so very sorry for your loss. While I do believe tortured minds might turn to the needle, there are many other reasons as well. The individuals I knew who did this did have other options and a big support system. At this point we can only pray that they survive the struggle.

  • oldjoe

    What good is it to lock them up i know for a fact they get drugs in county prison like they do on the street

  • Aaonymous

    Yeah to bad half the cops in hazleton ARE THE ONES SELLING CRACK AND HERION pshhh i grew up around here its disgusting, they should fire all the hazleton police and start fresh with new ones

      • ajdkdls

        I agree we need new police. all our police do is drugs themselves n beat the crap out of ppl for no reason, RealIy i no it sounds ridiculous but i have seen with my own eyes. I do believe we have n illegal alien issue badly and a bad drug problem,but when u witness 5 police officers beating up a kid b Cuz they want names of other ppl who sell the drugs which I have personally witnessed, I think we need to get new police force and take other action. Start making sure people are also legal to even live here and can read English. No disrespect but if I moved to another country ur most likely to speak they’re language or they won’t give u the time of day I’m sick of the excuse were prejudice when no poems were the minority. Just get new police Cuz everyone is not bad and just bcuz someone in there family is doesn’t mean they all pay for it. I have already seen the police pick up a kid off diamond ave n hazleton with blood pouring from his head they thru him in the back of a cop car,me and a friend proceeded to be nosey and follow them. they didn’t even take him a hospital they went into Mcadoo towards hometown took a back road n that’s when we decided was probably not a good Idea to follow anymore. We also witnessed on one other occasion when we were both bartenders about5 police in camo gear beat up a kid almost to death bcuz they wanted information he really didn’t have or maybe he did but not the point, anyway we tried screaming begging them to stop when they did stop It was for a sec to literally tell us if we didn’t shut up n stay quiet we were next n were to girls who have never been in trouble ever n we weigh about 125lbs a piece maybe soaking wet. So my reasoning for this whole comment is maybe the right person will c it and we will get some new police. I have met some who are good n do the right thing but that’s rare in hazleton there mostly crooked and it stinks when u grew up here and new how it used to be I just how the right person doors see this msg and someone really fits investigate properly. I loved my hometown back in the day out was a great small place to live where everyone me each other now you can’t even let your kid walk down the street it’s so sad and pathetic.

  • Miranda Fonseca-Perez

    if you get caught with pot you go to jail. not to rehab. why should these junkies get treated any different? addiction is not a disease, it is a decision. you see what heroin does to people and if you still make the CHOICE to use then you should be held responsible. these addicts are allowed to get slapped on the wrist and they go after the dealers but yet with no demand there is no supply

    • drifter4200

      I’m sorry Miranda but this isn’t directed just towards you but most of the people who commented on this. Addiction is a disease, ask the CDC, and do some medical research on the affects of addiction. It actually changes the way addicts think, act feel and their brains are changed forever. It is literly brain damage. I have spoke with several addiction specialists and it is also hereditary, so how is that a choice? That’s like saying homosexuality is a choice. I have no right to preech on cancer so I don’t because I have never gone through it so please don’t be ignorant and preech about addition if you have been through it or seen the devastation that comes with it. I wish everyone the best and please don’t judge others you have no right!

      • jmbk

        So the needle just stuck itself in the arm of this so called diseased person, get outta here. I did my fair share of drugs in my time, I made that choice to do it and I also made that choice to not go any further then what I did and stopped doing it. Oh wait, so I cured my disease then? It is not a disease, it becomes a disease after you made the choice to stick yourself therefore, you shouldnt get special treatment. Ive seen this drug kill ppl and Im sorry to say I had no sympathy for them, yes I felt for the family with that said no one can make some one get help either, they need to make that choice.

      • MsM

        Whatever man, everyone has an opinion on these matters and you know what they say about opinions! There is just as much info out there that diagrees with you AND the CDC.

      • MsM

        *disagrees* and let’s see how quick or not you are to judge if you get ripped off or mugged by a druggie!

  • mdog

    No don’t blame the dealer blame the demand, then make legal
    to execute the dealers of deadly drugs. no drug = no demand.

  • Miss Conceptions

    We are all quick to judge but not as quick to understand. I moved to this town eight years ago and the same problems persist yet no real strides are being taken to alleviate the situation. And somehow some people are convinced that the fault lies on the color of one’s skin. How about we all take one BIG breathe and let go of the narrow-minded judgements this country has faught with our own blood to surpass. The sooner we stop blaming the underpriviledged, underpaid, and underestimated “immigrants” for problems that the leaders of the community should be undertaking, the sooner this community with such great potential can work TOGETHER to make the drug, economic, and social problems become less prevalent. Hazleton is a town smack dab in the middle of two major highways. It’s major streets once boomed with businesses and people. That can happen once again if we can come together as a community. Where can kids go to play? Where can teenagers have a healthy environment to hang out? Where can the young professionals work? Where can the older residents relax? And if these places DO exist in this town; why don’t we hear about it?! I will conclude with one last question: Have we forgotten that long ago there was an influx of Italian immigrants that were faced with the same EXACT hurdles that the “immigrants” of today are? We have to remember.

    • Bill D

      Didn’t you know? This isn’t wealthy white kid problem. Puhlease, i know plenty of well off white kids who died or are strung out on heroine! Of course they’ll blame the Spanish or blacks for the supply, not the users for making the demand!

      • carrie

        if these such people didn’t bring them her in the first place then the other people wouldn’t have the option to buy it around here

      • MsM

        @Carrie if you had eyes to see half the drug busts if not more read on this news site are just as many white people as black and hispanic. And just because something is “there,” doesn’t mean it’s for the taking. Also, to the ignorant racists on this board who said Hazleton didn’t have those problems until people of color came into the area that may be true for your area because the people who lived there were either older or not of the mindset to do these drugs but that still doesn’t resolve the problem of the white drug dealers and the white drug addicts and the cause for their actions and addictions is the diversity that moves thruout the country that makes white people do drugs? Do you even hear yourselves talking like you’re back in time 70 years? So every time a white person does drugs or drinks or murders or rapes or steals or does ANYTHING wrong it’s a person’s of color’s fautlt? Do you people realize how stupid you sound?

    • Mad In Hazleton

      fault lies on the color of one’s skin. ………………………
      For the most part yes it is the color of the skin….we Hazleton didn’t have these problems 25 to 30 years ago when their was less people of darker skin color running around…I hate to say it, but facts are facts

  • deborahrmorgan

    Hazelton is representative of how all towns in this country are going……drug addiction is a symptom of a larger problem….i believe the majority of these folks are mentally ill….and if given the proper medication would not be so self destructive…..happy people do not hurt themselves …..hopefully wth obamacare things will get better for these people……..

    • noneof your

      what are you smokin something your self obamacare is a problem is self read the facts how my people lost job? how many store closed how many companys closed there door or cut hours so they did not have to get the insurance for them think first before you post about

  • Brian

    We’re in a “war” in Afghanistan and something like 80% of the worlds H comes from Afghanistan (99% of the northeast H is from there) Why isn’t anyone talking about that? How is this stuff getting in the country with all of this security we have post 9/11. The whole war on drugs is a racket!

  • Me

    Just drop a bomb on that city. Nobody cares. Not cops, not the mayor, no city officials, and none of the residents (illegals).

    Drive past it. Not through it.

  • gafan

    An article should have been written about Hazleton’s Friendly Neighboring Hamlet: WEATHERLY. You want to see more heroin addicts/related deaths, just take East Broad Street out to the Plains Road. Why don’t they write an expose about THAT sleepy little scum hole? Oh, and did I mention that you can’t find a bottle of cough syrup in that town to save your life?

  • Don't Eat The Yellow Snow

    I understand what many of you are saying, but things aren’t always that black or white. We try to bring our kids up to know better than that, but one of those “junkies” could always end up being a loved one. I know, in most cases, heroin tends to turn people into subhumans, but they really are humans too. Against all warnings, for whatever reason, people try it, and they have no intention of turning into a raging drug addict. The grip that this drug gets on people is something that is very hard to comprehend for somebody who never experienced it. Many of these folks are worth saving though. I have seen a number of people I love turn their lives around, and become responsible members of society. The addiction is so strong that it’s much more complicated than just “saying no”, or “deciding to stop”. Many of these people try repeatedly for years to make the right decision and stop. It takes a lot to overcome the agony of withdrawal. It’s not just that they like feeling sorry for themselves. It helps to have people around who are compassionate and have your back. Most of the addicts that I’ve met do not want to continue the life they are living(or wasting away). I wish the best of luck to anyone out there who is trying to stop this, and the friends and families who have the patience to put up with the struggles their loved ones put them through. There is a life after addiction. If someone you love is in this position, please try to help them. I know it’s not easy, but you will regret not being there when it’s too late.

    • Paul

      Well said, as a recovering heroin addict myself I couldn’t of done it without the love and support of my family. Blood is thicker than water and those friends who you so called are your friends are in fact your get get high buddies and most of the time don’t wanna see you succeed. Misery loves company! Give your love and support to your “addicted” love one, life is greener on the other side!

  • kyrie

    It has been an on going problem for years in a Hazleton. Between the crime
    And the drugs it’s a sin to say your from here. I would not have a child grow up here in a million years. I wouldn’t even tell people I’m from here.

  • jmbk

    Junkies, get a bad batch an do us all a favor. You made a choice to pick that crap up. Its not a disease, its a choice. Waste of line and air. No compasion from me for these idiots who cant handle a bad dose of life , here’s an idea…if you dont like your life or whats happening in then grow up and change it, don’t play pity party, only you can change your life and mke it what you want it.

    • shannon

      U are very judgemental not all addicts were given the choice……some were in situations they had to do what there partner said or else…..also addiction is a battle……clean or using addicts struggle to live a normal life everyday……until u walk a foot in one’s shoes u shouldn’t be so hurtful……..grow up

      • jmbk

        When you have to be a mother and fight for your child bc their father made a choice to date a junkie then you can come talk to me. I shouldnt have to fight this system to protect my child who is defenseless and doesn’t know right from wrong. Ppl make a choice to take drugs, yes maybe they were prescribed pain pills bc of an injury first however, no one prescribes heroin and no one else sticks a needle in their arm. Im so sick of hearing its a disease, I suppose I have a disease to since I absolutely love drinking red bull. When a nurse who went to school, steals drugs from their patients , whom they are supposed to be helping just so they can get a high is a choice, they know the affects of what drugs do to you, they learn it even tho its common sense. It becomes a disease after they make that fkn choice to pick it up. Its not a disease at first, I have no sympathy nor empathy for anyone that makes the decision to pick up drugs. I have done my fair share of drugs and I guess I cured my own disease when I decided I didnt wanna do it anymore….thats bullshit. Life is hard , I dont care whats happening in your life, turning to drugs is a pity me cop out, its fkn stupid and they shouldnt get felt bad for.

  • Theresa Thomas Ravert

    Ya sure lock everyone up…. That;s the answer to everything anymore.. Do you really think that they wanted to get hooked on drugs?? I say offer the help to the people that want it.. But it’s hard to afford the Suboxne program.. They want 300.00 up front then from 100.00 to 180.00 a month everytime you go back…. Maybe if they lowered the prices they could afford to get the help they want an need… I really don’t think that when they were little they said they want to grow up an be drug addicts?!?!? I THINK NOT!!!!!!

    • ME

      Hey Theresa, everyone has problems, gets confused or upset about life, but they don’t add to their and society’s problems by using drugs.
      If they hadn’t started using drugs, they wouldn’t be addicts and society would have less problems because of them.

    • jj

      Sending them to prison don’t fight addiction it just gives them more connections idiot. I’ve seen several people who went to prison and came out worse. Some even died. So get a clue cus you know nothing. Take the time you are wasting on here bashing them and read a book before speaking

    • Don't Eat The Yellow Snow

      MsM, locking people up is not always the right way to handle it. Not ALL junkies are thieves. There definitely are a lot of them who end up stealing to prevent the torture of withdrawal, but some of them do manage to maintain their morals. It’s a complicated problem, but sometimes prison actually creates worse criminals. Some people are locked up after victimizing nobody but themselves. When they get out of prison, they have even less options than before, and that can create a real bad situation. Prison needs to be reserved for the true criminals who truly victimize other people. Taking away a potentially good person’s options can only lead to more crime.

    • marie

      Actually locking them up can help if they use the tools they are given in prison to get sober and stay that way. Prison does offer alot of positive resources but the inmate has to take full advantage of them. If they dont then no, they will continue to go down the same road when they get out but if they do then they can change their lives for the better. So get educated on the prison system cuz yes prison can help a person get and stay clean and sober

    • MsM

      @jj “Sending them to prison don’t fight addiction it just gives them more connections idiot. I’ve seen several people who went to prison and came out worse. Some even died. So get a clue cus you know nothing. Take the time you are wasting on here bashing them and read a book before speaking”
      I have read several books, I also have an MBA, grew up in a very large city, had a career where I communicated with 10 or more people a day on a daily basis for 25 years, volunteered for 15 yrs in urban communities, and recently went thru the experience of SEVERAL family members and their “aquaintences” with heroin. Yes we tried to help them, and yes we got royally screwed. SO, the only ignorant idiot on here is you and those like you.

  • John Mike

    Hazleton is not a very big city. If they were really commited
    To getting drugs off the streets and illegals out of town
    It would’ve been accomplished already. The chiefs response
    Above is very PC and I’m sure the city will hope this article blows
    Over which it probably will. It’s ashame bc Hazleton was once
    A nice place. When I drive past diamond ave and see my
    Grandparents old house I literally want to vomit. I’m just happy
    They got something for it before it was too late.

    • MsM

      In big cities, the problems lke this are pushed back into specific corners of specific neighborhoods; in smaller cities you have but only a few blocks before it all turns to crap, or even whole towns go under. There needs stiffer penalties for dealers and traffickers.
      The economy is another matter; how do you get people to understand they either have to drive some distance for a job, start at the bottom, or just take what they can while training for something better.
      It’s all too easy to use the excuse of a language barrier, (make them learn English), and delegate work hey CAN do.
      “If they were really commited
      To getting drugs off the streets and illegals out of town
      It would’ve been accomplished already.” Agreed. So Hazleton is destined to become a self-imposed-self-contained prison.

  • MsM

    …in addition, law enforcement needs the same support or their efforts are nothing but an exercise thru revolving doors.

  • MsM

    …and nothing will change if the higher ups in the judicial system and the gov’t doesn’t step in and support the community’s efforts for change. Get the drugs, the drug-dealers, and the addicts off the street. Rehab for the addicts thru jail-time if necessary OR hospitiization programs. Outpatient programs are failing because the dealers are still out there. Lock THEM up, keep them locked up, and clean up the addicts.

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