3 Eastern Shore Deaths Linked To Tainted Heroin


MARYLAND -It comes marked with names like Theraflu, and Bud Ice.  Heroine laced with the painkiller fentanyl has been linked to at least 37 in Maryland since September.  Three of those on the Eastern Shore, in Wicomico, Somerset, and Queen Anne's counties.

"Fentanyl is a synthetic morphine analog," says pharmacist Craig Schury, "it's a very very potent pain reliever."  In fact, Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine.

Though there has been one death in Wicomico County, connected to this deadly drug cocktail, local law enforcement say they haven't seen much of it on the shore just yet.

Mainly, because it's hard to make.  What's sold in pharmacies typically comes in the form of a patch, which Schury says cannot be added to heroin, though he does have his theories.

"What's happening is, from what I know, it's being synthesized in Mexico.  Some of it's being synthesized here in the US."

In a heroin overdose, a user will slowly stop breathing over time, but when heroin is laced with fentanyl "they'll die with a needle in their arm.  That's how quickly it steals the life of an addict," says Wicomico County States Attorney Matt Maciarello.

So some users are apparently unknowingly buying it, which is why law enforcement and health experts say now is the time to get help for addicts, before it's too late.      

Maciarello says "We are going to be vigorously prosecuting violations of heroin distribution in our county, so now is the time to come forward before law enforcement catches up to you.    

This isn't the first time Maryland has had this problem.  In 1993, nine men were arrested for conspiring to distribute fentanyl laced heroin that was blamed for 30 deaths in the state.

Wicomico county law enforcement will be meeting with the US Attorney's office next week to get briefed on how they should be handling this frightening problem.

If you missed our special report called "Healing The Heroin Epidemic," you can view all five parts of that series on our website.

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