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Trib editorial: Death in a stamp bag

| Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
An empty heroin stamp bag.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
An empty heroin stamp bag.

It should go without saying that miscreants who deal drugs are not your friendly neighborhood pharmacists. Yet addicts trapped in the pit of drug dependency, struggling with both physical and mental conditions, are not considering the danger in the stamp bags they buy.

Two overdose deaths in Washington County last month linked to carfentanil, and possibly a third, indicate that this deadly elephant tranquilizer — 5,000 times more powerful than heroin — could have been mixed with cocaine or taken separately. Either way, its use is akin to playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded revolver.

Carfentanil is an analog of the deadly synthetic fentanyl but is 100 times more potent. It's so deadly that carfentanil is regarded by some experts as a potential weapon of mass destruction. Reportedly it's less expensive than heroin and easier to make.

At least 30 of the confirmed 194 overdose deaths in Westmoreland County last year were linked to carfentanil. In some instances, stamp bags sold as heroin last year contained little or no heroin but, instead, were filled with fentanyl or a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, authorities said.

Law-enforcement efforts to crack down on drug trafficking are laudable; recently authorities confiscated more than $500,000 in illegal drugs. But tragically, drug dependency — which requires treatment for mental and physical withdrawal symptoms — outweighs the recurring reality that one's next dose could end in death.

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