Pubdate: Thu, 24 Aug 2006
Source: Belleville News-Democrat (IL)
Copyright: 2006 Belleville News-Democrat
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Heroin)


WASHINGTON, Mo. - Franklin County officials are trying to track down 
the source of drugs linked to at least 15 overdoses, including one 
that was fatal. And they believe the painkiller fentanyl - or heroin 
laced with fentanyl - may be at the root of the problem.

A 41-year-old Labadie man died May 31 from a drug overdose. He was a 
known heroin user, Frankling County detective Jason Grellner said. 
Other victims have experienced serious medical complications.

Most of the overdoses have occurred in and around Washington, Villa 
Ridge, Labadie and Pacific, Grellner said.

In some cases, heroin may be laced with fentanyl, or persons may be 
buying pure fentanyl thinking it is heroin, Grellner said. Fentanyl 
also may be mixed with other drugs like cocaine.

"As with all illegal narcotics, people have no idea what they're 
buying," Grellner said. "When you buy drugs off the street, you're 
taking your life in your own hands."

County authorities are working with the Drug Enforcement 
Administration to trace the source of the drug.

"We believe it's been coming out of the St. Louis metro area," 
Grellner said, noting that more than 100 overdoses there have been 
linked to Fentanyl. Franklin County is about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Heroin laced with fentanyl is blamed for more than 400 deaths nationwide.

Fentanyl is an opiate used legally in anesthesia and for some cancer 
patients. The legally produced prescription painkiller is 80 times 
stronger than morphine.

But law enforcement officials say the type of fentanyl currently 
being mixed with heroin is most likely manufactured in illicit labs. 
It is cheaper than heroin, making it an appealing additive for heroin