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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Heroin use in area has become more deadly

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  •        The fight against heroin in Wayne County continues and faces a new obstacle, fentanyl.
          As reported earlier this month, the Wayne County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force arrested seven known drug dealers from our community.  Two of those dealers allegedly sold fentanyl- laced heroin.  
          In April of 2014, the Wayne County Drug Task Force purchased illegal narcotics from a target in a controlled purchase.  Preliminary testing of the heroin revealed that we had our first purchase of heroin laced with fentanyl in Wayne County.  Fentanyl is a narcotic analgesic that’s said to be stronger than morphine. This drug is meant to treat chronic, persistent pain and breakthrough pain from cancer. Fentanyl has a rapid onset with the potential to become habit- forming and is often subject to abuse.  Fentanyl has similar biological effects to that of heroin, but is thought to be a stronger sedative and much more powerful than street heroin. Some heroin dealers mix fentanyl with low-grade heroin to add bulk and make it more potent.
          URGENT: Just this week, the Drug Enforcement Agency has issued a warning to law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania regarding fentanyl.  “Fentanyl depresses the central nervous system (CNS) and respiratory function and exposure to it may be fatal.
         The improper handling of fentanyl is very dangerous and can prove to be fatal. Fentanyl can be absorbed into the body via inhalation, oral exposure or ingestion, or skin contact. It is not known whether fentanyl can be absorbed systemically through the eye.  If fentanyl comes in contact with skin (i.e. The hands) it could subsequently enter the body through inadvertent touching of the mouth, nose, or other mucous membranes.
         The onset of adverse health effects, such as disorientation, coughing, sedation, respiratory distress or cardiac arrest is very rapid and profound, usually occurring within minutes of exposure. If inhaled move to fresh air, if ingested – wash out mouth with water provided the person is conscious, and seek immediate medical attention.”     
        This information is vital to the public.  If  you come into contact with any narcotic that appears to be heroin you must not touch it with bare hands or risk inhalation of it and contact your local police department or 911 immediately.
       A mix of fentanyl, with either cocaine or heroin, has caused an outbreak of overdoses in different parts of the country, including Pennsylvania.   Fentanyl is most often used orally, but like heroin, can be smoked, snorted or injected. On the black market, fentanyl is most often sold in patch form.  Even those with a tolerance for opiates are at a risk of overdosing if the drug is used improperly.
    Page 2 of 2 -      In January and February 2014, more than 30 overdose deaths were reported in western Pennsylvania and subsequent laboratory testing attributed the accidental deaths to a mixture of heroin and fentanyl. The use of fentanyl may cause many complications such as seizure, irregular heartbeat, breathing complications and coma.  Further, fentanyl withdrawal can be more intense and more dangerous than heroin withdrawal and include suffering nausea, abdominal pain, hallucinations and confusion.  Medical detoxification is recommended to eliminate the drug from the body.
           The urgency of getting this information out to the public cannot be understated.  In the cases that the Wayne County Drug Task Force investigated and made an arrest, the dealer sold what was believed to be heroin to a confidential informant.  Neither the dealer nor the user knew that the substance contained fentanyl. The Task Force believes that dealers sell the drug without informing the user it is laced with fentanyl in order to “hook” the user. Further, due to the higher potency of heroin-laced fentanyl, the risk of overdose is significantly increased.
            The Wayne County Drug Task Force continues to fight here in Wayne County against illegal drug activity.  Increased man power and resources are being utilized to target dealers and gather information to make more arrests and prosecute those who break the law to the fullest extent.   The Wayne County Drug Task Force’s commitment to this community remains steadfast.  Task Force officers live locally, raise their families here, and want a better Wayne County.  Taking the steps necessary to combat drugs in our towns is not only the job of the Task Force, it’s our pledge.
    ***
         To report drug activity in your neighborhood text the Wayne County Drug Task Force at our YouTip anonymous 24/7 text line at 570-391-0657 or email the information to drugtips@co.wayne.pa.us.

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