Police nabbed an alleged drug-peddling senior citizen found selling heroin laced with fentanyl from a bicycle on the streets of New York City.
The Queens District Attorney announced the arrest of 66-year-old Hubert Harris Friday, after a month-long investigation tracking the suspect. Police witnessed Harris on his bicycle Tuesday riding through Queens and arrested him, seizing 98 white glassine envelopes suspected to contain a heroin mix, reports New York Daily News.
An undercover NYPD detective also witnessed Harris sell 10 envelopes filled with drugs to an unnamed buyer in Queens last month. Tests conducted on the drugs found five of the envelopes contained cocaine, heroin and fentanyl, an opiate-based painkiller roughly 50 to 100 time stronger than morphine. The other envelopes contained fentanyl mixed with Tramadol, a prescription painkiller.
“Most troubling is that we are witnessing heroin being mixed with the synthetic drug fentanyl, which is thirty to fifty times more potent than heroin,” District Attorney Richard Brown said Friday, according to New York Daily News. “This is creating a deadly cocktail for people who may be using such a mixture unknowingly.”
The 66-year-old is charged with criminal sale and possession of drugs and for resisting arrest during his encounter with police. He faces up to 12 years in prison.
Painkiller and heroin abuse is rampant in New York City and across the state, claiming 2,431 lives in 2015. The state experienced a 135.7 percent increase in synthetic opioid and heroin deaths between 2014 and 2015, one of the largest increases for a state.
Officials in New York are particularly concerned with the recent emergence of acrylfentanyl, a fentanyl analog, or synthetic replication of fentanyl. The new synthetic opioid is unlike anything first responders have previously seen and not even multiple injections of Narcan, the overdose reversal drug, are reviving the overdose victims.
The substance primarily comes into the country from China and is cropping up in Chicago and Pittsburgh, and now recently in Rochester, NY. Acrylfentanyl is responsible for at least 44 overdose deaths through April 2017 in the Chicago region, according to the Cook County medical examiner. Last year, only seven deaths in the region were linked to acrylfentanyl.
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