Heroin and opiate use is a widespread problem in the state of Connecticut that affects every corner of the state, regardless of social-economic status, and law enforcement agencies are working together to combat the problem.
State, local and federal officials have created the statewide heroin and opioid law enforcement initiative to target heroin, fentanyl or opioids dealers.
“Connecticut, just like many other states in this nation, are suffering from this terrible epidemic. These tragic deaths have occurred in every corner of our state, from the smallest towns to the largest cities,” U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said during a news conference. “No one has been spared.”
Investigations are underway into overdoses in Danbury, Derby, Enfield, Greenwich, Middletown, Newtown, New Haven, Norwalk, Norwich, Shelton, Stamford, Vernon, Weston, Willimantic and Woodbridge, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The announcement came hours after a 25-year-old man died after an apparent overdose on fentanyl-laced heroin in Groton on Tuesday night and police in Norwich arrested three people in connection with an investigation into the tainted drug.
Dailey said it is law enforcement’s top priority to identity the sources of the drugs and get the lethal drugs off the streets.
To help do this, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and DEA have developed a protocol for police responding to heroin and opioid overdose deaths and it includes time-sensitive investigative techniques and preserving all evidence at the scene of an overdose death.
Police also are asked to contact DEA early in the investigation and to ensure that an autopsy is performed.
The DEA and local police will then work together to investigate what led up to the death, the source of the drug involved and the composition of the drug.
“We hope that the use of this protocol will enable law enforcement to effectively track the source of the most dangerous brands of heroin being distributed in Connecticut,” Deputy Chief State’s Attorney Boyle said.
The DEA and U.S. Attorney’s Office have received funds from two sources to investigate heroin and opioid overdoses, including Department of Justice Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force funding for an investigation focused on large-scale sources of heroin being distributed in Connecticut.
The DEA has also received funding under the National Heroin Strategic Initiative Second to be used to pay overtime, purchase equipment, fund training, and assist in the investigation of seized cellular telephones. So far, this joint initiative has led to several federal charges.
On March 2, a federal grand jury in Hartford returned an indictment charging a Hartford grocery store owner and two associates with trafficking heroin, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. During the investigation, investigators seized more than 20 kilograms of heroin destined for Connecticut and approximately $900,000 in cash.
Eleven New Haven-area residents were recently charged with conspiring to steal the personal identification information of more than 50 doctors and medical professionals to create fraudulent prescriptions to obtain and distribute more than 100,000 oxycodone pills.
Heroin use in the United States has been on the rise since 2007, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.