PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – Western Pennsylvania’s federal prosecutor says investigators are working on arrests linked to roughly 30 non-fatal heroin overdoses in recent days.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton says dangerous batches of heroin – some of it laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl – have caused the overdoses in Cambria and Washington counties.
“We’ve had approximately 15 non-fatal overdoses in Washington County in the last several days and approximately the same number in Cambra County,” Hickton said.
He called a news conference Wednesday to alert the public to drugs sold in stamp bags marked “Black Boot,” ”Boot Camp,” and “Peace of Mind” in Washington County and “Bulletproof” and “Head Trauma” in Cambria.
Hickton says western Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies are trying to get ahead of the heroin epidemic by treating every overdose as a criminal investigation, something that wasn’t done in the past.
“We think that the only way we’re going to solve this problem is if we stop dealing with it historically and we at least catch up with it and preferably, get ahead of it,” he said.
In Allegheny County alone, there were 227 fatal overdoses in 2010, which climbed to 307 in 2014 and 349 in 2015.
He also said that most of those who survived the recent overdoses were revived with Narcan.
“There’s good news in this terrible report and that is that it appears – from the information we have so far – that almost all of the individuals who overdoes were revived with Narcan, either by paramedics or police,” Hickton said.
Hickton is warning users and seeking help from families.
“This is a very, very difficult addiction to deal with and we need to be alert and sensitive to how hard it is to break the grip of opioids,” Hickton said.
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