A “bad batch” of heroin suspected to be cut with a potent compound is sparking a rash of overdoses in New York, claiming three lives over only 10 hours.
The Johnson City Police Department in New York issued a warning to residents and drug users in the area Saturday to be aware of the tainted supply. Police are in the early stages of investigating the deaths and have not identified what the heroin may be cut with. Officers in the area responded to a total of four overdoses within 10 hours, three of which were fatal, reports FOX 40.
“Due to the sudden rash of fatal overdoses, it leads us to believe that there may be a ‘bad batch’ of heroin on our streets currently,” Sgt. Michael Mason of the Johnson City Police Department said Saturday, according to FOX 40.
States in the region are experiencing similar problems with random batches of heroin that lead to mass overdoses in a single day or over a week, particularly due to the influence of synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil. Authorities often fear issuing a public warning over overdoses because many addicts will actually seek out a batch they hear is fatal.
“When an addict hears that an associate of theirs or somebody they know overdosed on a certain stamp bag of heroin the mindset is ‘that’s the bag I want.'” Chad King, chief of the Pennsylvania Bridgeville Police Department, told CBS Pittsburgh in May. “‘They couldn’t handle it, but I can and I’m going to get the ultimate high.’ They don’t look at it like we look at it.”
Painkiller and heroin abuse is rampant in New York, 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.
Twenty-four counties in New York are designated as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Early data from the NYC Department of Health shows there were nearly 1,400 unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2016.
New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer called on the DEA June 18 to dispatch one of four special heroin task-forces to New York City to combat opioid overdoses. The DEA created four special heroin enforcement teams to aid areas where local authorities are overwhelmed by drug deaths.
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