Sterling Heights police warn of youth heroin use

Police say children are choosing heroin before prescription pills because it is cheaper

By Kevin Dietz - Reporter

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. - Kids are heading back to school in Sterling Heights and as they prepare for new classes police say parents need to educate them about heroin use in the suburbs.

"Some of the heroin that they were getting was extremely strong and we had overdoses," said Sterling Heights Police Lt. Luke Riley.

Police say many children are switching from prescription pill abuse to heroin because it's cheaper. Some take the bus into the city to buy the drug.

"You'd be surprised the amount of bus traffic on our public transportation to and from the city," said Riley.

Demand is so high in the suburbs that local dealers can be found in many neighborhoods. Jomell Helm was caught three times selling heroin to undercover Sterling Heights police officers.

"The third time he was arrested, charged with delivery of heroin," said Riley.

Helm is just 23 years old. He was given a break -- probation instead of prison. However, just six months later he was caught with a loaded weapon and charged as a felon in possession. The feds could charge him as a habitual offender with a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.

But Helms is asking for one more break: drop the habitual charge and let him plead guilty to the lesser gun charge.

He is expected to accept the offer at sentencing next month. He faces between 3 and 5 years in prison for the weapons charge.

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