Watsonville, CA, a rural community in Santa Cruz County, is home to roughly 51,000 California residents. Despite the rustic setting – agriculture and farming drive the local economy – Watsonville residents are regularly impacted by drug abuse and drug-related criminal activity. As a matter of public safety, it’s vital for Watsonville residents to understand the issues facing their community and how to support individuals struggling with substance abuse.
Substance Abuse and Drug-Related Crimes in Watsonville
The presence of illegal drugs in any community coincides with a rise in violent crime, as well as property crime. Those involved in the drug trade, for example, often carry large amounts of cash and illegal substances on their person, making them prime targets for armed robberies.
Likewise, users who use certain substances are more prone to violence, leading to violent confrontations and acts of belligerence. For example, Methamphetamine is notorious for increasing aggression in users as the effects of their latest dose begin to fade. Despite Watsonville’s idyllic rural setting, the community has been victim to multiple instances of these drug-related crimes over the past several years.
Drug and Gang Violence a Reality for Watsonville, CA
When most people think of agricultural communities like Watsonville, drug violence is not an issue that immediately comes to mind. Unfortunately, wherever illicit drugs are readily available, a rise in crime and gang activity typically follows. In fact, disputed drug deals and competition for territory between local gangs commonly evolve into violent encounters.
For instance, in October of 2016, a failed drug deal led to the arrest of five individuals, three of whom were shot in the subsequent scuffle. Three of the men, identified as the buyers, attempted to rob the two men acting as sellers. Shots broke out, resulting in the three buyers fleeing in a vehicle. The men were forced to call 911 in response to their injuries, and after receiving medical treatment they were arrested by the police. One of the other two men was apprehended during a high-risk traffic stop the following week.
The investigation resulted in the seizure of several pounds of marijuana, roughly $10,000 in cash, and two firearms. Although medical marijuana is legal in California, the substance is still frequently sold through black market channels for recreational use. As a result, the risk of increased violence continues to threaten communities like Watsonville.
Recent Shootings Highlight Dangers of Drug Abuse
On January 15 of 2017, Watsonville police responded to a 911 call about a shooting. Officers were unable to identify a victim or shooter at the scene, but were subsequently notified about the arrival of a patient suffering multiple gunshot wounds at Watsonville Community Hospital. The victim refused to cooperate with the police and would not answer any questions about the shooting, but Watsonville police concluded that the shooting was gang-related.
It’s normal for victims of gang violence to refuse to work with the police – gang members treat such cooperation as tantamount to a death sentence. Instead, gang members typically prefer assisting rival gang members over supporting law enforcement with an active investigation. This tendency among gang members hinders the success of law enforcement to address drug-related crimes and accelerates the cycle of violence in a community.
Drug Crime Impacts Communities Like Watsonville as a Whole
The negative effects of addiction and drug violence are not limited just ancillary crime. Members of the community that use illicit drugs often face ostracism, health complications and financial ruin. This social backlash can prevent users from addressing their substance abuse problems safely and openly, increasing the user’s risk for relapse.
Even worse, illegal substances such as heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine cause very severe withdrawal symptoms. Those suffering intense withdrawal symptoms are more likely to act violently or commit crimes, putting themselves and members of the community in greater danger.
Seeking Addiction Treatment Near Watsonville
For anyone living in rural communities, recovery can be a difficult step. Addiction recovery requires the rebuilding of one’s life, daily activities, and social interactions. For those in the most rural parts of the Central Coast area, it is especially important to seek experiential rehab with professionals who not only show them how to get sober, but to maintain sobriety after program completion. With these learned skills, returning to a small community can be much easier, and the individual recovering can ease back into a normal and healthy day-to-day routine.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse in Watsonville, the Central Coast area, or anywhere in California’s Central Valley, it is crucial to identify a treatment program that responds directly to your needs. Elevate Addiction Services is here to support those struggling with substance abuse by helping them to rise above addiction and embrace lifelong sobriety. The first step in recovery is to ask for help.