Homemaker Beats Drug Dealers, Loses to Cancer
HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) _ Silvey Hinkle’s cancer gave her the courage to battle drug dealing in her neighborhood, and she beat the pushers when her bold campaign led to more than 30 arrests.
But the 28-year-old mother of two lost her fight against cancer Monday.
Many residents of her aging South Garden neighborhood were frustrated by the rampant drug trafficking on their streets, but authorities said they were silenced by fear. Not Mrs. Hinkle.
″She did not seem to fear retaliation,″ said Alameda County Sheriff’s Lt. Gaylen Temple.
″She made the statement that ‘Nobody can do anything to me because I know I’ll be gone by Christmas.’ It’s real sad to think of it that way, but she was a determined woman.″
″She was a lady who knew that she had terminal cancer. She was concerned about conditions in the neighborhood and did try to organize citizens to combat the problem,″ said Temple.
She told police where drug deals were being made and who was involved, and got others to do the same, he said.
Mrs. Hinkle said she acted out of concern for her children, 4-year-old Kimberly and 2-year-old Timothy. ″They can threaten my kids, but my husband can take care of them,″ she said.
After an intensive two-month undercover operation involving 123 officers, more than 30 people were arrested in raids on Nov. 8.
One person has has been sentenced to state prison, and South Garden is now free of drug dealing, said Temple.
Jeff Hinkle said the arrests provided his wife with the peace of mind to accept her death. ″She was very happy. She just wanted to see the neighborhood cleaned up,″ he said.
The Hinkles moved into the neighborhood four years ago. Two years ago, Mrs. Hinkle discovered cancer had crept into her body and drugs into her neighborhood. She immediately began working to stop the spread of narcotics.
″Drugs were being sold on the streets much like at a hot dog stand, but instead of ordering french fries, they were ordering cocaine and other drugs,″ said Temple. The menu ranged from marijuana and heroin, to cocaine and methamphetamine, he said.
A loose-knit organization of independent drug dealers worked the streets, their identities and locations of transactions protected by look-outs who prevented police from cracking their operations, according to Temple.
″In the past year, it just really got out of hand,″ Temple said. ″The neighbors tried to combat it, but they were really afraid.″
Mrs. Hinkle, and others who declined to speak out publicly for fear of retaliation, helped undercover officers by reporting where drug sales were taking place and who was involved, he said. She even went door-to-door, encouraging neighbors to join in.
″We get a lot of this, ’I don’t want to get involved or I’m afraid for my family,‴ said Temple, who was in charge of the South Garden investigation.
Citizen involvement is crucial to curtailing the drug trade, said Temple. ″We can’t do it on our own.″