Recent incidents have led police to conclude that heroin has become more readily available to teenagers in the East Aurora area.

"It's something I never thought we would have a problem with," Police Chief William D. Nye said in an interview this week.

But recent arrests and medical calls indicate that more teenagers are likely buying and using the drug.

For the second time, police arrested an 18-year-old Kelver Court man for allegedly possessing an undisclosed amount of heroin, a highly addictive illegal drug.

Michael J. Caraotta of 49 Kelver Court was charged with two counts of seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after police Tues., Sept. 28 executed a search warrant at his home.

"This is the second such search warrant executed at this residence within the last eight months," Detective Tom Hassett reported.

Caraotta was arraigned in Aurora Town Court and taken to the Erie County Holding Center in lieu of $1,000 bail.

Police believe Coraotta was supplying local youth with the drug. Recent investigations have led police to believe that local drug dealers are purchasing the drugs in the City of Buffalo. "That's what this kid was doing," Nye said of Caraotta.

Though all illegal drugs have been available to some extent locally, Nye and other authorities are concerned about the increasing availability of heroin, which has come down in price in recent years. As a result, teens have moved from marijuana to more addictive drugs such as heroin.

Police described the local drug trade as a secretive underground effort, but one that has attracted an even younger clientele.

An increasing number of heroin overdoses have been reported in the village the past six months. In one instance, worried friends called emergency medical personnel when a man became unresponsive while sitting on a couch.

The inhaled form of heroin seems more popular in East Aurora than the injected form, authorities said. Still, authorities warn parents of the potential for other problems, such as unwanted pregnancies and motor vehicle accidents, which often result from drug use of any kind.

"This messes people up," said Nye, East Aurora's first Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer. "It changes their behavior and leads to other problems."

Telltale signs of drug use by a youth include a change in behavior, a shift in his or her group of friends or the need for extra spending money for unexplained reasons, Nye said.

Recent studies suggest a shift from injecting heroin to snorting or smoking because of increased purity and the misconception that these forms are safer.

Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder. Street names for heroin include "smack," "H," "skag," and "junk."

In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have additives that do not readily dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys or brain.