Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jun 2006
Source: Delaware County Daily Times (PA)
Copyright: 2006 The Daily Times
Author: Rose Quinn, Times Staff
Bookmark: (Heroin)


CHESTER -- With as many as 14 possible cases of fentanyl-laced heroin 
overdoses under investigation, narcotics officers infiltrated an area 
of the city and arrested a suspected dealer within three hours 
Wednesday, authorities said.

No deaths have been reported in connection with the ongoing 
investigation, though two people who arrived at Crozer-Chester 
Medical Center on Tuesday remained on a ventilator Wednesday, 
according to city narcotics Sgt. Joseph Bail.

"This stuff gives new meaning to the idea of heroin being deadly," 
said Bail, who along with city Police Commissioner John Finnegan 
issued a stern warning to potential heroin customers.

"These people think they are buying regular, good old-fashion 
heroin," Bail said. "This particular batch is laced with fentanyl and 
it has been verified by the Pennsylvania State Police lab."

Bail is referring to heroin in bags labeled "Assassin," a brand not 
normally tainted with fentanyl -- a potent painkiller. There is no 
detectable difference between regular and so-called bad heroin until 
it's too late.

Alleged dealer Angel Sastre, 31, of Chester Township, was observed in 
what appeared to be a drug sale with Wesley Batemen, 26, of 
Brookhaven, in the 900 block of Walnut Street about 2:45 p.m. 
Wednesday, Bail said.

One of the hospitalized victims stuck a needle in her arm and 
immediately passed out Wednesday morning. She later told 
investigators that she purchased heroin in a bag labeled "Assassin" 
in the 900 block of Walnut Street.

The woman was found at Second and Engle streets shortly before noon.

"When the paramedic got there, she still had the needle in her arm," Bail said.

At the time of his arrest, Sastre was in possession of 2 1/2 bundles 
of heroin, both packaged for sale and marked "Assassin," according to 
Bail. That volume of heroin usually translates into about 30 street bags.

The bundles were taken to the Pennsylvania State Police lab for 
immediate testing, Bail said. "The preliminary results show it tested 
positive for fentanyl.

"We are not finished with this investigation by any stretch," Bail 
said. "Getting this (alleged dealer) off the street is a start. He 
was our major target where people were getting (the bad heroin) today."

According to Bail, the woman is one of as many as 14 people who may 
have purchased bad heroin in the city since Monday.

Separate investigations involving heroin have been ongoing in Upper 
Darby in recent weeks.

According to Bail, two patients who arrived at Crozer on Tuesday 
remained on ventilators Wednesday. Investigators are still tracking 
down other possible victims.

Of the victims who have been identified, seven people said they 
purchased the drug from Ninth and Walnut streets, or Ninth and Morton Avenue.

Late last month, the Delaware County Medical Examiner's Office said 
three deaths in Delaware County were due to heroin tainted with fentanyl.

On Wednesday, Delaware County Medical Examiner Dr. Fredric N. Hellman 
said there is a possibility of a fourth victim, but toxicological 
evidence was insufficient. He found heroin metabolite in urine, but 
not the bloodstream.

He ruled the death as multiple drug intoxication.

As this point, Sastre was charged with distribution and related 
offenses, but further review by the Delaware County District 
Attorney's Office could result in additional offenses.

Sastre was still waiting to be arraigned Wednesday night.

According to Bail, Bateman is charged with purchasing three bags, 
which sell for about $10 each on the street.

"I really have to commend the officers in this investigation," Bail 
said. "They were able to get out there and made an arrest within three hours."

Bail said the investigation involved city Detectives James E. Nolan 
IV and Randy Bothwell and a team of narcotics investigators, as well 
as members of the county's Drug Task Force.

A general radio message was issued to all police agencies in the 
county and in the state of Delaware about the situation, Bail said.

Anyone with information is asked to immediately contact city 
narcotics investigators or county detectives, or call 911.
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