An 11-year-old boy called the police when he found illegal drugs while rummaging in his father's suitcase.
The Massachusetts boy called local authorities when he found what he thought might be drugs in his father's bag, according to WCVB. The boy also told police he saw his father selling the drugs earlier in the day.
"It is frightening to consider that the drugs the boy found are strong enough to cause serious harm to full grown adults, merely by being in their presence, and to consider what could have happened had he not immediately called for help from law enforcement," Lawrence Police Chief James Fitzpatrick told WBTS.
Police arrested Yamil Mercado, 40, after reportedly finding at least 212 grams of heroin mixed with fentanyl. Police say the drugs were packed in five sandwich bags and hidden inside a suitcase. The luggage also allegedly contained scale and several empty sandwich bags.
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"I commend this young man for being brave enough to come forward and report that these dangerous substances were in his home," Fitzpatrick said.
Officers obtained an arrest warrant for Mercado on charges of drug trafficking and child endangerment. Mercado turned himself into police after he became aware that police had begun to search for him.
The boy is currently being cared for by his grandmother.
"I get chills," neighbor Susan Duarte said. "I want to cry. I don't know what's going on. A parent would not put their child in harm's way like that if they're in their right mind. Shame on you to put your child at risk like that."
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"It's very scary for a child to call the cops on his father," added fellow neighbor Nancy Morin. "It's devastating. I feel for the child. I really do."
Across the country, opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 2000. Pennsylvania has been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic. Heroin and drug-related overdoses spiked by 20 percent in 2014 in Pennsylvania, according to Penn Live.
The drug epidemic in Pennsylvania has also struck middle-aged people as forcefully as young people, usually due to a pain medication prescription that runs out.
"This is not something that is recreational, from what we are seeing," said Eric Kocian, a researcher at Saint Vincent's College. "The pain pill addiction is real. Eventually prescriptions expire or run out and people resort to buying pain pills on the street or from others."
"When that becomes too expensive and there is still a need to function, heroin is the logical step for them [cheaper and more effective]. From there, it is a sad downhill process."