Police: Heroin incidents piling up
Updated: Tuesday, March 4 2014, 03:07 PM EST
Gates, N.Y. -- Two deaths, two unresponsive people and a fifth person who was in serious need of medical attention, all of which police believe are tied to heroin.
“There has clearly been an uptick in calls to 911, that’s how we’re finding these people,” said Chief James Van Brederode of the Gates Police Department.
In early January, a woman was found dead in her running car in the parking lot of a Spencerport Road drugstore, police said.
In late December, a man’s body was discovered in a local motel, said Van Brederode. All five incidents happened within the last five weeks, he added, and police suspect the Fentanyl-laced heroin that has made headlines across the Northeast.
“We certainly are leaning towards that,” said Van Brederode. “To have this many in our town, it’s very unusual to have this many deaths and overdoses. So something clearly is going on, it’s not normal to have this many.”
Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller that is 80 times more potent that morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A recent alert was sent from the Drug Enforcement Administration to local law enforcement, including the Livingston County Sheriff’s office.
“Fortunately, we haven’t seen any of that type of drug,” said Undersheriff Mark Bean.
In an effort to be proactive, Bean held a press conference Monday to deliver a message.
“Our message is not only to the drug users to be careful, bit for their families and the people that are around them to make sure that they are being careful and encourage them—if they do need help—there is resources,” Bean said.
The message was sent last by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane after 22 deaths occurred Western Pennsylvania, believed to be related to Fentanyl-laced heroin.
“Together, these drugs are creating an extremely dangerous and potentially lethal combination for users," Kane said. "The heroin is believed to be in bags stamped with the words Theraflu, Bud Ice, and Income Tax."
A drug expert from the Monroe County Crime Lab told 13WHAM News Monday that Fentanyl-laced heroin is in Monroe County; though he would not give specific numbers. Local law enforcement rely on lab tests, and could not confirm the number of cases related to Fentanyl-heroin; nor could the Department of Public Health immediately identify the exact number of cases. The county medical examiner’s office would not disclose lab-confirmed cases Monday.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is actively investigating the uptick in Fentanyl, but that Rochester is not part of the active investigation, according to a DEA agent.
The DEA, however suspects that a similar if-not-the-same product found in Pennsylvania is being used in Monroe County.
Police do not believe that heroin use is more prevalent than it has been in recent years.
"It’s kind of remained steady,” said Lt. Scott Peters, a member The Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Enforcement Team or GRANET. “It’s very isolated, shall we say.”