Actor's heroin-related death sparks questions, drug crime focus

In an ideal world, all criminal cases, no matter the victims or possible offenders, would be treated equally. This country is made of cynics, however, and the recent death of Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman has stirred something up in them.

Mere days after Hoffman died from an overdose of heroin, authorities made drug arrests. Four suspects were arrested in connection with the drugs reportedly found in the deceased actor's apartment.

Were the drug arrests the result of good police work or desperate work to try to find answers to a beloved celebrity's widely watched death?

Other people are lost to drug overdoses, including here in Illinois. While authorities in the state take drug crimes seriously, some in the public wonder if a non-celebrity's drug-related death would result in the quick apprehension of drug crime suspects as in Hoffman's case.

Members of law enforcement have publicly responded to the question. They say that Hoffman's fame has put a well-known face to a heroin problem that is growing in various areas of the country. The rate of heroin-related deaths has increased. In Hoffman's case, the heroin found in his system was especially dangerous because of the presence of a strong painkiller in it.

Authorities are working to combat the apparent growth in heroin use and sales. They also are trying to get the particularly dangerous strains of the drug off of the market. While the drug arrests related to Hoffman's death were in New York, the trends that the high-profile story has highlighted could be at-play in Illinois.

Someone who is accused of a drug crime such as selling heroin in Illinois should not hesitate to work with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Source: CNN, "The Philip Seymour Hoffman case: Are heroin death probes created equal?" Chelsea J. Carter and Ray Sanchez, Feb. 7, 2014

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