Five Overdose Deaths In New York Possibly Caused By Tainted Cocaine

By Lindsey Weedston 09/27/19

Authorities have not yet announced what the cocaine was laced with, though some suspect fentanyl may be involved. 

Image: 
ambulance racing to the scene of an overdose in New York
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Five overdose deaths in one weekend spread across two neighboring areas of New York City have police suspecting that a tainted batch of drugs was involved. Three of the overdoses occurred in the Bronx with the other two happening just to the north in Yonkers.

New York police have identified a batch of tainted cocaine they believe could be the reason for these deaths, according to NBC News.

"Right now we suspect that there may be up to five deaths related to this batch of cocaine so we want the public to know to not ingest these illicit street drugs because the consequences may be fatal," said Detective Sergeant Dean Politopoulos.

Waiting For Toxicology Reports

The Yonkers police are currently seeking to arrest those responsible for the tainted cocaine. They have not yet announced what the cocaine was laced with, though recent cases of multiple overdose deaths in short periods of time have often been the result of fentanyl contamination, the extremely potent synthetic opioid.

According to local news, it will be a few weeks before the toxicology reports are released.

Three Died in Pittsburgh In The Same Week

The deaths in New York occurred on the same weekend as a rash of overdoses in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that killed three people and sent four more to the hospital. All of them appeared to have attended the same party or event as they were all wearing the same orange paper wristbands when they suffered the overdoses.

“The victims all took the narcotics at the same time and in the same location," Pittsburgh police said in a statement. They believe the seven victims were at the same venue together and then traveled to an apartment where they took an illicit substance that also may have been tainted.

A man from the apartment called 911 for help at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, and police believe that if the drug had been distributed at the venue rather than taken at the apartment, there would have been other reports of overdoses in the area.

They are, however, concerned that there may still be a batch of contaminated drugs out in the community which might be distributed to future victims.

"We remind the public not to use drugs,” they warned. “Simply put: You do not know what's in that drug.”

The Pittsburgh police have determined that fentanyl was the contaminant responsible for these overdoses. They have arrested a suspect, Peter Rene Sanchez Montalvo, and charged him with illegal distribution of a controlled substance. If found guilty, he faces 20 years to life in prison.

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Lindsey Weedston is a Seattle area writer focused on mental health and addiction, politics, human rights, and various social issues. Her work has appeared in The Establishment, Ravishly, ThinkProgress, Little Things, Yes! Magazine, and others. You can find her daily writings at NotSorryFeminism.com. Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindseyWeedston