Updated: 6:47 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 | Posted: 6:19 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014

PUBLIC SAFETY

8 drug deaths last weekend likely tied to lethal heroin mix

FBI teaming up with Montgomery County to launch initiative to battle epidemic.



By Arundi Venkayya

Staff writer

Montgomery County Coroner’s officials confirmed Thursday that eight people died of intravenous drug overdoses the weekend of Aug. 2. Eight of 11 autopsies performed were reported as overdoses from intravenous drug use.

Law enforcement officials also said Thursday they are creating a new information-sharing initiative to target drug dealers to combat the region’s heroin epidemic.

Ken Betz, director, Montgomery County Coroner’s office and Miami Valley Crime Lab, said the weekend’s overdoses are the largest number seen in the region during such a short period in memory. The region includes Montgomery and surrounding counties including Miami and Greene.

It’s likely the drugs were heroin and possibly heroin laced with fentanyl or a heroin-fentanyl-cocaine combination, Betz said. It will take four to six weeks to get complete toxicology results.

Earlier in the year there was a lull in fentanyl-heroin-related deaths but during June and July the crime lab saw another increase. People don’t know what they are getting or what their heroin has been cut with when they buy.

“There’s such a combination of what we see on the street,” he said.

At many of the overdose scenes, investigators find syringes or capsules still there. There’s evidence on or near the body that indicates what kind of drug was used.

“The death investigations are consistent with the heroin-fentanyl deaths we’ve seen,” Betz said. “That is the largest number of (drug overdose) deaths we have seen in recent history at the coroner’s office. Eight out of 11. It was astounding to the staff.”

According to an Aug. 4 coroner’s office document obtained by the Dayton Daily News called, “Fentanyl Case Update,” the number of fentanyl cases analyzed at the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab peaked in April with an average of four cases a day.

There was a decline in May — only four cases containing fentanyl for the entire month. That number has jumped in June and July, according to the document. During June and July the number increased to three to four cases a day.

Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said law enforcement continues to be concerned about the heroin epidemic and locally officials have launched an initiative that targets dealers.

“Obviously there’s a potent batch of heroin out there,” he said. “People need to know there’s a bad batch and should talk to their kids and warn their family members about it.

“It’s more dangerous now than ever.”

The collective targeting initiative includes the FBI, DEA, the Dayton Police Department and the Sheriff’s office, said Tim Ferguson, supervisory senior resident agent with the FBI.

“We are leveraging law enforcement resources to selectively and collectively target drug dealers and violent drug offenders,” Ferguson said. Each agency will share its drug intelligence to break down information silos, he said. Ultimately, the initiative will expand to law enforcement agencies in surrounding counties.

The driving force is the widespread availability of heroin. Law enforcement executives are determined to impact the epidemic, he said.

“Heroin just seems to fuel every problem we have,” Ferguson said. “It’s not just breaking and entering and petty theft. Now we’re talking about violent crimes like bank robberies. It’s all based on the heroin trade. It’s become so easy to obtain and it’s so cheap, the addiction level has gone up. It’s just become such a huge problem.”


CONTINUING COVERAGE

Our reporters have been covering our region’s growing heroin epidemic for more than a year. Hundreds have died in our area from heroin use just in the last year and the numbers continue to rise. You can read our past coverage, watch videos and more at MyDaytonDailyNews.com/projects/heroins-impact/

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