A Tale of Innocence Lost

What becomes of a child born to two drug-addicted parents? The consequences are usually tragic. For some children it’s worse than others.

One case in particular will stick with me forever, continuing to fuel my passion to fight against drugs. It’s what happened to a little girl who I will call Marie.

Marie was just six years old when she started running drugs for her dad. Her parents knew if she was caught with drugs nothing would happen to her. But if Dad was caught, he would go back to prison for a long time. As payment for this “work,” Dad gave Marie drugs. He started her with marijuana and alcohol. Eventually he turned her on to meth. But he would only allow her to use the drugs with him. He said it was to watch out for her and to protect her, but in truth it was to weaken her resistance and take advantage of her innocence.

When Marie was 8, almost 9, her Mom got sent to prison again. With his wife gone, Dad had Marie assume the role of his partner in life. Not only was Marie her father’s companion, drug runner and fellow drug user, but Dad also had her assume the role of his intimate partner.

Over time, life got even worse for Marie. When Dad didn’t have money for drugs, he took pornographic photos of him and Marie and tried to sell them. Eventually, he would just trade Marie to his drug dealers for the drugs he needed.

This nightmare finally came to an end for Marie when she was 10 years old. A school official noticed three puncture marks along the vein inside her elbow. The school nurse recognized these as needle marks and called law enforcement and Child Protective Services.

Marie was freed from her daily torment, but her innocence had been lost forever.

That’s what drugs can do. And that’s why I fight against them so aggressively.

Why Navajo County Drug Stories?

While I consider myself “tough on crime,” I didn’t run for Navajo County Attorney simply to rack up convictions and lock people in prison. My responsibility as a prosecutor is to make our community safer and to solve problems.

Today in Navajo County, we have a problem with drug abuse. Unfortunately, communities locally, across the state and nationally have faced this same crisis for decades. My 20 years as a prosecutor have shown me that just arresting and locking up drug users does not solve or even reduce this problem.

In case after case, file after file, thousands of court actions a year, I see drugs ruining lives and driving crime. Drugs get people arrested, push addicts to steal and rob, and create an environment ripe for domestic violence and child abuse. Drugs tear at our schools and at our families. Drug cartels, meanwhile, gobble up value police and prosecutorial manpower while endangering lives throughout Navajo County and Arizona.

Vigilant law enforcement and aggressive prosecution are absolutely part of the solution, as I see it. But they’re only one component of reducing drug abuse. So is an honest dialogue focused on the harm drugs cause and the price addiction extracts from not only the addicted but also from those around them.

With help from community activists, City 4 Television, the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office and the Arizona Narcotics Officers Association, my office has created Navajo County Drug Stories to start that community conversation. It’s my hope that, in turn, these true stories will spark conversations around the dinner table, in the classroom and all over our county – conversations that will focus us on solving this awful problem we face.

Thank you for your time. If you have a question – or you want to be a part of this effort – please reach out to me today at Brad.Carlyon@navajocountyaz.gov. We would love your help … and to hear your story.

Brad Carlyon
Navajo County Attorney

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Facebook