Search continues for source of lethal drug mix 30 victims hospitalized

no deaths are reported

July 11, 1996|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

City police continued to search yesterday for the source of a lethal drug mixture being sold on the streets of East Baltimore earlier this week that sent 30 overdose victims to area hospitals.

No new cases were reported yesterday and no deaths have been reported, said police and city health officials.

The drug mixture is believed to be a combination of cocaine and the anti-motion sickness drug scopolamine. Victims of an overdose suffer symptoms of violence, paranoia and extreme agitation.

City police spokesman Sam Ringgold said police were "still trying to determine the source of the drug," but have yet to collect enough information "to zero in on a suspect."

He said a hot line set up to collect information on the drug mixture gave police few leads yesterday. The number for the hotline is 675-5128.

Both Ringgold and city Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson said they suspected that whoever was providing the drug for street sale has gone underground.

"The person trying to sell the stuff has probably tried to scoot away when they knew we were out to get them," Beilenson said.

The health commissioner said tests on a capsule of the drug confiscated yesterday could not completely identify the mixture because lab instruments at Johns Hopkins Hospital are unable to detect the drug scopolamine.

On Tuesday, city police officers covered a 90-block area in East Baltimore where they believe the lethal drug mixture was being sold. Police officials identified sellers and users, detaining and searching suspects.

Earlier this week, Dr. Gabor Kelen, chairman of Hopkins' department of emergency medicine, said the drug mixture can cause strokes and heart attacks in some victims.

Police said they believe the people providing the drug may be the same people responsible for a previous series of overdoses in May. At that time, three people died and more than 60 people were sent to city hospitals after taking the drug mixture called "homicide."

The May overdoses were similar to cases in other Eastern cities, including Philadelphia and Camden. N.J. In Philadelphia, more than 120 overdoses were reported. In Camden, N.J., 19 people were treated in emergency rooms one Saturday night.

Pub Date: 7/11/96

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