Menino says he’ll send more drug cops into Southie
Mayor Thomas M. Menino says he’ll deploy more drug cops to opiate-ravaged South Boston in the wake of a horrifying break-in and slaying, while a state senator is calling for a “strike force” to tackle the escalating drug woes.
“Heroin is at the root of all of our problems in the neighborhood,” Sen. Jack Hart, a Southie Democrat, said. “We have an extremely serious problem in South Boston.”
Menino, Hart, state Rep. Nick Collins and Southie City Councilor Bill Linehan are slated to meet with residents Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Tynan School to develop a strategy to deal with the heroin and prescription pill problem.
“I think we are at a crisis point,” Collins said. “There is a public safety gap in South Boston right now, and the community needs to know there is a plan to attack it.”
Community anger has raged since last week’s horrific slaying of 67-year-old grandmother Barbara Coyne. Timothy Kostka, 26, is accused of slitting her throat during a break-in, then cashing in her winning lottery ticket and buying heroin, authorities said.
Coyne family friends have set up a fund to help with funeral expenses at Sovereign Bank, 200 Seaport Blvd., Boston 02210.
In addition to the Coyne murder, Hart says there has been an “uptick” in break-ins, and the drug-related murder of another 67-year-old grandmother, Barbara Tagen, in Andrew Square last August.
Kostka’s arraignment on Monday brought back painful memories for Tagen’s daughter, Jordine, who found her mother beaten to death in her ransacked apartment. A neighbor, Adam Cassino, is charged in Tagen’s murder.
“It’s so similar, everything down to the ages of the perpetrators,” Jordine Tagen said. “my heart bleeds for the family because there is no closure.”
Menino acknowledged the neighborhood’s drug problem but denied it’s become a “crisis.”
“No it’s not at a crisis level at all,” Menino said. “We’ve dealt with this situation before. and we’ll deal with it now.”
The mayor, who said he’s dispatching more drug cops to the neighborhood, called on residents to report drug activity.
“We can’t do it alone. We need the community to help us,” Menino said. “If there’s a spread of drugs in the community, give us the information, tell us where they are, and we’ll go make the arrest.”
Hart called for a “strike force” consisting of people involved in drug abuse intervention, as well as law enforcement, who will “really attack this problem and make the neighborhood a safer place.”
Southie’s opiate scourge became an issue in Washington last month when U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, testified before Congress about the prescription pill “epidemic,” and said South Boston has the highest overdose rate in Boston.
Colneth Smiley Jr. contributed to this report.
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