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Police cracking down on drug dealers targeting Phoenix homeless people

Advocates for the homeless said while there is still a problem with outside dealers, these arrests are a good start toward cracking down on it.
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 7:46 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Supplying fentanyl to one of the most vulnerable groups in our community. It’s what Phoenix Police said is happening with the homeless population downtown. Dealers from the outside are selling drugs at a discounted rate to those most desperate. Now, there’s been a major arrest of a dealer this week, but is it enough?

The number of homeless living in tents is growing daily in Phoenix. Now, police are trying to crack down on drug dealers who are taking advantage of them. “The people who are in this area are at the lowest part of their life,” said Marty Hames, spokeswoman for Circle the City. “We’re trying to be there to help them and then you hear something like this and it’s breaking my heart to hear it.”

Circle the City is a nonprofit providing health care to homeless people, and their doctor, Christopher Pexton, said death from drug use is out of control right now. “The deaths from both methamphetamines and opioids has increased drastically and we see it on campus every day,” said Dr. Pexton.

Cristian Machado, who officials said goes by “Ghost,” is accused of contributing to the problem. Machado was arrested for providing and selling drugs at a discounted rate to the homeless, a population he is not a part of, police said. According to court paperwork, he would “hide his car, walk into the shelter, front large amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine at a low price to a few people, then return later and continue the cycle.”

A search warrant of his multiple homes found around 13,000 pills. Phoenix police said this leads to more crime. “I think there’s a correlation between violent crime and drug use,” said Phoenix Police Sgt. Vincent Cole. “This is our second arrest since May where somebody was specifically selling to those experiencing homelessness.”

That man, Brian Duncan, the first arrest by Phoenix police in their targeted investigation on this, calling him “a major contributor to the illicit fentanyl outbreak at the homeless shelter.” Dr. Pexton said, unfortunately, there’s a reason why these dealers try to sell the homeless both meth and fentanyl. “The benefit from a dealer’s standpoint is it makes them addicted to two drugs, and the need to buy and use all that more,” said Dr. Pexton.

Advocates for the homeless said while there is still a problem with outside dealers, these arrests are a good start toward cracking down on it. Machado is facing seven counts of selling, transporting, and possessing drugs.