Portland prosecutor Ryan Lufkin is tracking heroin’s growing grip on Oregon, which he tells The Oregonian too often goes unnoticed. Heroin killed more people in Oregon last year than methamphetamine and cocaine combined — and more people than drunken drivers.
“I think everyone just got a little complacent,” Lufkin says.
When he learns of a death, he first searches for a driver’s license or Facebook photo to show the heroin user as he or she looked before being dragged down by the drug. Mostly, he finds booking mugs showing faces of people looking ill and disheveled. Each photo he finds goes in a three-ring binder, along with a police report about the death. Since the beginning of 2009, he’s compiled the stories of 44 people who’ve overdosed on heroin. “I wanted them all to have a face,” Lufkin said. He has started showing his binder to some of the heroin users he has prosecuted. “I had assumed they’d kind of flip through it and blow it off,” said Lufkin. “But they really took their time with it and read the reports.”