FARMINGTON — Law enforcement officials say leftover drugs can be dangerous and are better off in an incinerator than your cabinet.
Agencies are hosting the biannual prescription drug giveback from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Collection bins will be set up at six locations in San Juan County, and people are encouraged to drop off unused, expired and unwanted prescription drugs, which will then be incinerated.
Local police chiefs, the San Juan County Sheriff and a chief prosecutor announced their support of the event during a multi-agency press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
Farmington Police Chief Kyle Westall said prescription drug abuse is a problem in the county, especially among young people. He said that in a 2011 survey 10 percent of teenagers in the county admitted to using prescription narcotics to get high in the last 30 days.
"If people have unused prescription drugs in their cabinets, they can easily fall into the wrong hands," he said.
During similar events in the county, law enforcement agents have collected up to 500 pounds of prescription drugs in a single day.
In addition to the event on Saturday, bins will be set up at all law enforcement agencies in San Juan County that accept unused prescriptions whenever the police departments and sheriff's offices are open, Aztec Police Chief Mike Heal said.
The drug giveback is overseen by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which takes the drugs from law enforcement and incinerates them.
In addition to getting drugs off the street, the event tries to raise awareness on the dangers of prescriptions drugs.
In San Juan County, there are twice as many prescription drug overdose deaths than to illicit drug overdose deaths, Region II Narcotics Task Force Director Neil Haws said.
"I don't think people realize how dangerous they are, particularly when kids take them not as they are prescribed, or with other drugs such as alcohol, or with other illegal drugs, or in combination with other prescriptions drugs," Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said. "In San Juan County, we've had several fatalities of underage individuals who are mixing pills with alcohol at parties."
Police will collect prescription drugs at the following locations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday
San Juan County Sheriff’s Kirtland Substation, 6 County Road 6360
Walmart, 1400 W. Main St., Farmington
Walmart, 4600 E. Main St., Farmington
Walgreens, 701 E. 20th Street, Farmington
Safeway, 415 N. Main St., Aztec
Farmers Market, 401 W. Broadway, Bloomfield.