Santa Fe Plaza site of heroin protest

Posted at: 09/04/2013 5:47 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Tourists on the Santa Fe Plaza got an earful and an eyeful Wednesday about a local problem that just keeps growing.

It's heroin. Cops call it an epidemic. Protesters fed up with local government said they wanted to drag Santa Fe's dirty big secret out where everybody can see it - even the city's precious tourist trade.

Lunchtime on the Plaza. Maybe 40 protesters shouting "Save our city" and "Save our people", waving picket signs, talking to people passing by about the heroin problem - especially those tourists.

"I'm not alone," said protest organizer Gloria Mendoza. "All these people here, they know somebody or they've got somebody in their families that is struggling with heroin. It's a bad problem in Santa Fe, you know - all those burglaries going on."

Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia knows all about the burglary outbreak. He stopped by to show his support for the demonstrators and their message.

"Incarceration is not the answer," the Sheriff said. "We need to push harder for treatment and get people off this."

"We want to bring everyone together," said protester Melissa Mendoza. "We want to raise awareness. We want our city council to help us raise awareness. What we really prefer is a citywide meeting so we could get everybody in this community in, everybody's input."

But the city council has not acted on their request for a big meeting - that's why they showed up at the Plaza.

Northern New Mexico has been heroin territory for decades, but now the drug seems to be cheap and easy to score. Police say addicts pay for it by trading or fencing the stuff they steal in burglaries.