Police say bad heroin has led to 5 Ohio deaths

CLEVELAND (AP) – There are no known common links between five heroin overdose deaths in Akron since June 4, police there said.

Akron police issued a warning Wednesday that the deaths might be related to heroin that is high in purity or to drugs containing a deadly adulterant.

Lt. Rick Edwards, a police spokesman, said on Thursday that heroin found at some of the scenes is being tested by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to determine its purity and what else it might contain. In other instances, no drugs were found and police are awaiting toxicology results from the Summit County medical examiner’s office, Edwards said.

The five who died were men between the ages of 31 and 59. All were found at locations either near downtown or in the northern half of the city.

In the instances where drugs were found, there were no common markings on the glassine bags the men had purchased, Edwards said. Heroin is typically stamped with a “brand” that is supposed to give users an idea of the drug’s source and quality. The stamps on the glassine bags used by dealers vary from the name of luxury brands such as Prada or Versace to comic book characters and famous people.

Akron narcotics detectives said most of the heroin being sold around Akron is produced in two countries: Afghanistan and, increasingly, Mexico.

Four of the overdose deaths have occurred since June 13, including two deaths Tuesday.

There were 13 heroin overdose deaths this year through May 6 in Summit County, where Akron is located, said Pat Gillespie of the county medical examiner’s office. That number is likely to rise appreciably once final toxicology results for other cases are completed, he said. There were 52 heroin overdose deaths last year and 45 in 2012.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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