Ohio Man Arrested In Connection To Mass Heroin Overdoses


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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter
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A man from Akron, Ohio was arrested in connection to the rash of heroin overdoses in West Virginia that occurred earlier in August.

Bruce Griggs, 22, has been charged in U.S. District Court in West Virginia for his connection to the 26 heroin overdoses that took place in just under five hours in West Virginia on Aug. 15, The Herald-Dispatch reported Sunday.

“Hopefully it sends a message far and wide that we are not a place to come and sell drugs,” Huntington Police Chief Joe Ciccarelli told The Herald-Dispatch. “You’re going to pay the price when you do that.”

Huntington police, along with federal agents, were able to connect Griggs to the overdoses by interviewing those who survived, as well as using surveillance footage that allegedly showed Griggs selling the drug shortly before the overdoses took place, a federal affidavit says.

The survivors who identified Griggs said they bought the heroin from a man who went by the name “Ben” or “Benz,” and were able to pick him out of a photo lineup, The Herald-Dispatch reported.

Within a half hour of the exchanges, which were caught on surveillance video, Cabell County 911 was hit with dozens of calls for heroin overdoses. A total of 26 heroin overdoses were reported over the span of just a few hours, and one person connected to the overdoses died.

A dozen doses of naloxone — a drug designed to reverse the effects of opioid overdose — were administered, with three going to one person alone. The other victims were revived using a mask “used to provide ventilation to patients not breathing,” called a bag-valve.

It is suspected, though not confirmed, that the heroin was laced with fentanyl, an extremely powerful opioid 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl-laced heroin has been responsible for a slew of overdoses in recent months and is a growing scourge all across the country.

Counterfeit fentanyl was even found in the late Grammy Award winning singer Prince’s house, and is listed as the cause of death on his autopsy report.

Worse yet, there is an even more powerful version of fentanyl, carfentanil — used to tranquilize elephants, and 100 times more potent than regular fentanyl — that has also been found in some batches of heroin.

More than 230 overdoses took place in Akron, Ohio in July alone, and police say carfentanil was found in some of the recovered heroin, The Herald-Dispatch reports.

Ciccarelli said no heroin was recovered from these most recent overdoses because the users had injected all of the drugs. Autopsy reports could eventually give evidence if fentanyl or carfentanil prompted the incidents.

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