550 bags of lethal drug seized Opiate in bags linked to seven overdose deaths.

March 19, 1992|By Roger Twigg | Roger Twigg,Staff Writer tdB

Baltimore police say they have confiscated 550 yellow glassine bags, each containing a potentially lethal dose of a drug that has been linked to six overdose deaths in the city and one in Montgomery County.

The bags, containing Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate, were discovered when police stopped a car in West Baltimore Monday. The seven overdose deaths linked to Fentanyl have occurred since mid-February.

The latest victim was a woman whose body was discovered Saturday in a house in the 1100 block of W. Lafayette Ave., says Capt. Mike Andrew, head of the narcotics unit.

Deaths resulting from the use of Fentanyl have now occurred in five of the city's nine police districts. Last month, the drug first turned up in a six-block area of East Baltimore that is known for drug trafficking. Police initially believed that distribution of the drug was confined to that area; now they think the drug is being distributed across the city.

Captain Andrew says that, in addition to the 550-bag seizure, a bag was taken from a 17-year-old youth Friday on North Monroe Street in West Baltimore and another bag was found in the house with the victim on Lafayette Avenue.

Fentanyl is manufactured legitimately by two firms in New Jersey, Captain Andrew says. City police are looking into the possibility that the drug is being pilfered from the firms or is being manufactured at some clandestine laboratory.

Meanwhile, a woman who was arrested with the 550 packets of Fentanyl has refused to cooperate with police.

"We plan to sit down and talk with her some more," Captain Andrew says. "Maybe if she only understood how serious this is."

Thomas M. Muller, director of the police crime laboratory, says the Fentanyl in the confiscated glassine bags was "40 to 80 times above the maximum therapeutic dosage" and "200 times more powerful then morphine."

Police are uncertain if illegal distributors are revealing the contents of each bag or if the bags are being sold as heroin.

Anyone with information on the situation is asked to phone police at 685-DRUG.

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