Man Accused of Throwing Heroin At Police Charged With Attempted Murder

By David Konow 11/11/16

The suspected drug dealer and two police officers were hospitalized after the incident.

Man Accused of Throwing Heroin At Police Charged With Attempted Murder

With the fentanyl and the opioid epidemic becoming a major health crisis in the U.S., police officers now have to take extra precautions in drug busts—wearing gas masks and keeping the overdose antidote, naloxone, at the ready in case they get exposed. The chemicals in fentanyl and other synthetic opiates are so lethal that even brief exposure to these drugs can be deadly, according to authorities.

Now as WJBD Radio reports, a suspected drug dealer is facing attempted murder charges for throwing heroin at police officers in Massachusetts. The suspect, Russell Pena, was arrested in the city of Falmouth after getting pulled over on the suspicion of distributing heroin and cocaine.

During Pena’s booking, he struggled with authorities. He grabbed a bag of what was suspected to be heroin, ripped the bag open, and threw the powder in the air towards the officers. As CBS Boston reports, the air conditioning in the police station was then shut down to keep the alleged narcotic from circulating in the room. Pena and the two officers were then taken to the hospital and subsequently released.

In addition to being held on one count of possessing a Class B substance, and one count of trafficking a Class A substance, among other charges, Pena is also facing two counts of attempted murder because of the potentially lethal consequences that can come from exposure to heroin laced with fentanyl, which has become a problem for Massachusetts.

As The Washington Post reported in September, members of a SWAT team had to be hospitalized after a drug bust in Hartford, Connecticut, when powder fentanyl and heroin flew into the air, creating a "cloud of dust." The officers became lightheaded and nauseated, but recovered quickly. As a result, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has called fentanyl exposure “an unusual hazard for law enforcement.”

The DEA told the Post that it is “concerned about law enforcement coming in contact with fentanyl … Just touching fentanyl or accidentally inhaling the substance during enforcement activity or field testing the substance can result in absorption through the skin, and that is one of the biggest dangers.” Another DEA source added that “a very small amount ingested, or absorbed through your skin, can kill you.”

Dealing with exposure to dangerous chemicals is a daily occurrence for many in law enforcement, but fentanyl is proving to be a deadly new ballgame.

One detective from New Jersey, Eric Price, who was exposed to a combination of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl in 2015, recalled that before he was rushed to the hospital, “I felt like my body was shutting down. I thought I was dying.” Another detective exposed to the drug remembered he couldn’t breathe and became very disoriented from “a very minuscule amount” of the drug. “That’s the scary thing about it," he said.

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.