By Mike Delair
I live in Tupper Lake I am writing you in regards to the epidemic of drugs that has taken over our community and the necessity to help adequately fund our village police department, rid our town of drugs and crime and most importantly save lives.
First off let me tell you about myself. I am 49 years of age, and led a life of drugs, crime, multiple incarcerations and overdoses. It was a life I never thought I could escape from or give up. I look back now and can only imagine how many nights my mother waited up for me- just to know I was okay , not in jail or worse, dead!
Faced with the grim alternatives, my mother, of course, preferred I was in jail and alive than the alternatives of still surviving on the streets or dead. -And believe me! My life on the street was simply survival.
At the age of 18 I started smoking pot . By the age of 20 I learned how lucrative selling drugs was. By the time I was 22 years of age, I sold half the North Country drugs- and had users in Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Newcomb and Long Lake. Fifty percent of the pot that was around probably came from my hands in those years.
At 23 years of age I got into cocaine. I not only abused the drug but got involved heavily with the distribution of $15,000 worth of it through my hands weekly.
In my yard was a four wheeler, a wave runner, a snowmobile, a truck and a car. I had a top of the line sound system electronics in my house and vehicles. You name it, I had it.
But I had no visible means of income. Why didn’t someone in law enforcement notice?
My first bust was in 2005. It involved myself and several other locals. I was charged for felony possession of marijuana as I had been out of cocaine that week as my dealer was in jail. I did 18 months in county jail and spent five years on felony probation “for the weed.”
After that I got into heroin. I was making just under $15,000 every couple weeks give or take, selling it and with what went up my nose. My habit cost me roughly $75,000 (street value) through the course of a year. Looking back, it was pretty sad!
At 39 years of age I was caught in the largest bust in Franklin county involving 36 people- 27 of whom were released to probation. I received a sentence of four years in state prison. Luckily I did only 18 months as I went through the shock program and successfully completed it.
I was only home four weeks on parole and already had already accumulated 30 bundles of heroin while living in a shed on my mother’s property.
After failing a couple drug screenings I finally got my life together as I knew I was looking at ten years in jail on my next bid.
As a friend described the drug trade just about a month ago: “cash is king, baby”.
The hypocrisy in that is as of March 2 he is incarcerated, leaving his wife and children behind and alone.
I no longer live that life! I am a better person for doing so and see things in a much different way!
I have a son, his wife and two beautiful grand daughters and two grand sons. I have a girlfriend who I love with two sons, and a very caring, loving and supportive mother!
Today I choose them and put them before drugs. My past would say differently but my past can’t define who I am today.
What makes me different today, you may ask? Well, I’m doing the unthinkable. Just a short time ago my friend passed away due to an overdose here in our home town, leaving his family, friends, and two children behind.
We drifted apart a few years back. But he and many more friends who I care for are still involved in drugs, so I have to love them from a distance. In doing so in the past seven years I have lost 16 friends to drug overdoes.
This year, hopefully with the help of local, state and regional lawmakers, my goal is to eradicate that problem!
When my friend was left dead on the frozen ground this winter, I lost it! I lost hope in humanity, I lost control, I was filled with sadness and anger and tired of watching my friends die.
I made a promise to someone years ago to rid this town of the poison which killed a friend. But I failed miserably. More friends died, and more shame and guilt have filled my heart. Well, I made that same promise this time, and don’t intend to fail. I have taken action to find my friend’s killer and stop the influx of drugs to our community.
How, you may ask? That’s where the unthinkable comes in. Myself and my girlfriend and a few anonymous others started driving around at night and watching those individuals involved in drugs. We’ve been writing down license plates, talking via texts to addicts and dealers alike.
Our aim is to gain as much information as we can. It got expensive so we started a Go-fund Me to help cover the cost of our gas. I was ridiculed, made fun of, and told I was untrustworthy.
Slowly the fund grew to around $400 and after a few hateful comments we decided to give all funds raised to my friend’s family for a headstone for my friend, Paul. With the money we were raising we also started an account for his two children which at this point is remarkably at nearly $4,000.
I’ve harassed people through Facebook, showing texts of dealers’ dirty deeds, pics of meth, and anything else that implicates their involvement, knowing it would get back to them.
Again, I was ridiculed, harassed and even threatened to the point my own mother deleted me from Facebook as she feared the safety of me and my family and the loss of my sanity. Many friends, all good-natured and well-intentioned people, have said I am wasting my time, loosing my grip on reality and are concerned for me both physically and mentally.
I have been asked: “why am I doing this?” My reply to them is simply: “why are you doing nothing?”
Meth and heroin run rampant in our streets! Everyone complains, but do nothing. I’m not going to continue to do nothing! If I am hurt because of my actions, I would only hope it would shed more light on the situation at hand and if I die, I hope I am remembered for what I am doing, and not for what I have done in my past.
If honoring my many dead friends is not honorable than what is honor? I can only hope that through the information I have obtained it leads to the arrest of my friend’s killer, as no justice has been served for the other 15 friends I’ve lost over the past several years. That is my hope; this is my wish!
It is time for change and over the past month those changes have been happening. People have read my posts and people have started to reach out to me and confide in me about activities in their neighborhoods- sending photos and tips etc. to me.
Others have gone as far as creating a website to expose such things, some of which I don’t condone. But to be honest they are getting their points across and if hurting some folks’ feelings happens, well consider the feelings of all the families who have lost there children here.
People are tired of it- “lots of people are- and they are fighting back. We are not vigilantes but people using the power of our voice to make a change and maybe one day go back to living like we used to for decades here.
Our town is horribly different now- from the innocent place it was years ago. Who doesn’t lock their door now? Who isn’t afraid that their kid may go to the ball park and fall on a needle . We are not the Tupper Lake we used to be, yet we promote how peaceful we are. Tupper Lake is now a community plagued with death of our young adults, addiction and crime.
Are people aware are crime rate has nearly tripled in the course of the last two years- most of it drug-related crime. Why is that? Because the state’s bail reform is not working the way you think it should. Our crime rate has tripled because the same individuals who are apprehended and arrested are released and back on the street before the ink dries on the paper of their arrest. Once out they are back committing more crimes.
While much of this is my opinion, if you look at the local police blotter it’s the same several individuals arrested and released, but not jailed, over and over again! The bail system is broken in New York State.
Squatters illegally staying in local apartments and houses in Tupper Lake was unheard of a few years ago. Now it’s commonplace…people moving into someone’s residence because it’s empty and our laws say we can’t just tell them to get out. It’s a complete and utter atrocity.
To all the elected leaders of our town, our county and our state, I simply ask this:
Will you fix our laws? Will you push to seek justice for those lost to the poisons being pushed in our community? Will you find funding for our local police department so they aren’t done work at 7p.m. when all the fun begins? -Or maybe situate a treatment facility right here where drug users and addicts can go to receive Narcan and mental health counseling?
To my community, I say, it is time to stop treating what’s going on here as a dirty secret. It is time to take our town back with or without our governments’ help! If you see something, say something. It’s that simple! You can remain anonymous but what you should not do is stay silent because before long the criminals will be running our town if we do not take action now!
Last but not least, a few comments to my fellow addicts:
I was once you and still am! I have anxiety and mental health issues persist with me to this day!
I not only feel your pain, your shame and your guilt but truly understand the grip of addiction as it haunts me to this day. I routinely have vivid dreams of smoking crack , nodding out, finding my dead friend and hearing his bones crack as I lifted him dead off the floor.
But some how in some way I finally just had enough and gave it all up. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think about it almost daily as I to want to numb the pain and quiet that little voice in my head that says “I’ll never be anything more than what I am- a junkie, a depressed and almost insane man of 50 years who sometimes thinks death would be easier than to go on living.
My critics may think I have no compassion. They may think of me as a bully and a bad guy and I’m okay with that. Why? Because I live with it. I hear all their hateful comments directed at me. And they combine on top of all the nasty things my own mind says to me on a daily basis. But I’m okay with it because I have changed and regardless of how low I feel sometimes, every day I rise and I put one foot in front of the other each and continue to fight for my sobriety.
It’s a challenge ten times harder than how I chased the drugs all those years. This is not an easy task by any means. I am no better than any of you and hate that some of you feel that way but so be it. If you ask me for help I will do whatever I can to help you- whether it just my ear to listen to you or the offer of some advice.
I pointed out to a few individuals I hope I’m not looked at as a bully to addicts. I’m the exact opposite. I care about all of you! But some of the things people have written about me on social media post, criticizing my motives and my character, just shows how truly horrible the disease of addiction is! It’s cunning, baffling and powerful.
To those living with it , they know of its power. Someone who is clean and sober may outwardly seem to be doing well on their journey, but then all of a sudden, without warning, they have a slip or even succumb to a full-blown relapse.
This type of behavior is very confusing to addicts and to their family members and friends, who often think that once their loved one goes for treatment that the problem will be fixed. Unfortunately, addiction doesn’t work that way. It’s a chronic illness that has all of the qualities listed above, along with “infinite patience.”
I would refer everyone troubled by addiction to: Stjoesphinstitute.com understanding addiction: cunning, baffling, powerful.
I will leave you with these words from a friend a mine, David Leblanc who said this to me recently: “I’ve known you since before you could walk Your mom played softball with my mom, so I watched you during games. I’ve known you since before your escapades. I saw your heart before it was hardened by crime and drugs. I see your heart even when you are raging mad. A man’s heart is what it is from birth. He’s capable of bad but deep inside of his heart, if it is good, he’s good. You just took awhile to figure out that you’re a good man. Some of us always knew! Maybe God or whoever is out there put you through all of the bad for this mission. Our town is going through some dark times, and maybe it needs a good-hearted man who’s looked into the abyss to help turn the lights back on!”
Photo from Almanack archive