SLCPD link spike in violent crime to heroin abuse

Posted at 7:38 PM, Sep 02, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- Police say there's a spike in violent crime along the Wasatch Front, despite a decline nationwide.

What makes Utah different? There's one major factor -- heroin.

“We have seen an uptick in some of the violent crimes that are occurring in an around Salt Lake City due in large part to the heroin epidemic that we are seeing -- in fact 90 percent over are related to heroin addiction,” said Chief Chris Burbank of Salt Lake City Police Department.

Police say addicts spend thousands of dollars a month on heroin and target banks to get quick money. Now, the number of robberies is up 200 percent over the past two years

“What used to be almost nonexistent in Salt Lake City early in my career is now the drug of choice in fact so significant that we are seeing a closer tie to drug cartel in Mexico directly to Salt Lake City because the profit margin is so extreme,” Burbank said.

Detectives say although the majority of criminals are caught, the key to preventing these violent crimes is police agencies working together.

“We rely heavily on these relationships as we move forward to address these crimes and prevent these crimes and ultimately keep these crimes from occurring,” said Adam Quirk, FBI Special Agent.

On Wednesday hundreds of law enforcement professionals will gather in Salt Lake City to focus on violent crime cases and how to stop them.

“The more effective we are at working together and cooperating, the more effective we will be at preventing crimes,” Burbank said.