Police make arrests in sales of 'Theraflu' heroin
By Jason Cato and Michael Hasch
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, 6:45 p.m.
Law enforcement agencies said little on Wednesday about their progress in determining the source of deadly fentanyl-laced heroin, as police in Homestead hunted for two suspects from a raid that netted a small amount of the drug.
“I'm sure they are going to go underground,” said Homestead police Chief Jeffrey DeSimone, who would not name the men for whom his department obtained arrest warrants after seizing 1,500 baggies of heroin labeled “Bud Ice” on Sunday from a 20th Avenue residence.
“I don't want to make it harder to find them,” DeSimone said.
Police in Pittsburgh and Zelienople on Tuesday arrested suspects in possession of heroin bags stamped “Theraflu,” another of the street brands suspected of containing fentanyl.
“Narcotics detectives and other plain-clothes detectives will continue to target neighborhoods throughout the city,” said Pittsburgh acting police Chief Regina McDonald, who added that her department is working with Allegheny County, state and federal agencies.
Zelienople police Chief James Miller said his Butler County department is working with investigators from the state Attorney General's office.
“There's a big investigation going on,” said Miller, whose officers arrested a woman after her daughter survived a heroin overdose over the weekend inside their house. “It's much bigger than us.”
The potent mixture of heroin and prescription painkiller has killed at least 22 people in Western Pennsylvania in a week and a half.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's laboratory has confirmed that heroin marketed as Bud Ice and Theraflu contained a form of fentanyl, an opioid painkiller that can be 100 times stronger than morphine. Doctors prescribe its legal form to cancer patients and others with chronic pain.
City officers said in a criminal complaint that they scouted out a Mt. Oliver house to arrest Clayton McCray, 19, pulling him over for driving with a suspended license when he left the house. The officers said they found marijuana and heroin bags stamped “Dope Boyz” in his pockets.
In the car with McCray was Frederick Knight Jr., 20, of Carrick. Police said they found marijuana in Knight's pocket and 36 bags of heroin stamped “Theraflu” stuffed into his underwear.
SWAT team members searched the Anthony Street house, where police recovered more heroin, nearly $1,300, and three weapons.
Knight and McCray, charged with drug distribution and other crimes, were being held at the Allegheny County Jail.
April L. Opperman, 41, on Wednesday remained in the Butler County Prison on $100,000 bond.
Zelienople officers on Friday responded to a call of a teenage girl overdosing at Opperman's residence on West Beaver Street and found drug paraphernalia along with empty and full baggies of heroin stamped Theraflu, according to a criminal complaint.
A man who overdosed Saturday told investigators he bought Theraflu from Opperman. On Tuesday, Zelienople police returned to Opperman's home with a search warrant and investigators from the Attorney General's office and Butler County Drug Task Force.
“We kicked the door down and found two bundles of heroin stamped Theraflu,” Miller said. “They are pretty sure it's all connected.”
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