United States Attorney Deirdre Daly and the Drug Enforcement Administration have unveiled a statewide initiative targeting narcotics dealers who distribute heroin, opioids or fentanyl--a substance which can be over 50 times more potent than heroin--that cause death or serious injury to users.
Beginning in January, approximately 20 heroin and opioid overdoses that have occurred in Connecticut have been investigated by the DEA’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad, which includes participants from the Wilton Police Department. Most of the overdoses have resulted in death. Currently, there are ongoing investigations of overdoses that occurred in Danbury, Derby, Enfield, Greenwich, Middletown, Newtown, New Haven, Norwalk, Norwich, Shelton, Stamford, Vernon, Weston, Willimantic and Woodbridge.
Daly says last year there were 444 overdose deaths. In just the first two months of the year, there have been 90 overdoses.
As part of this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and DEA have developed a protocol for police that respond to heroin and opioid overdose deaths. The protocol calls for local law enforcement to perform time-sensitive investigative techniques and preserve all evidence at the scene of an overdose death. Police also are asked to contact DEA at the early stages of an investigation, and ensure that an autopsy of the decedent is performed. The DEA and local police will then jointly investigate to determine the events leading up to the death, the source of the drug involved, and the composition of the drug. Individuals responsible for distributing drugs causing overdose deaths will be prosecuted.
Daly says a tragic opioid epidemic is plaguing Connecticut and much of the country. She hopes this statewide initiative will enable law enforcement to quickly determine if a highly toxic drug is on the street and take steps to identify the source of the drug in order to keep it out of the hands of vulnerable users. Their goal is to prevent additional deaths and to hold accountable those who distribute these deadly drugs.
The DEA and U.S. Attorney’s Office received funding from two sources for heroin and opioid overdose investigations. The DEA received Department of Justice Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force funding in an investigation focused on large-scale sources of heroin being distributed in Connecticut. The DEA also received funding under the National Heroin Strategic Initiative to pay overtime, purchase equipment, fund training, and assist in the investigation of seized cellular telephones.
The initiative has resulted in federal charges against several people in connection to fatal and non-fatal heroin overdoses. Two Hamden men were charged in connection with the oxycodone overdose of a 22-year-old man in Weston.
Ryan Budd of Bethel, was charged in connection with two non-fatal heroin overdose of a 25-year-old woman in Danbury.One of the overdoses occurred in a Mobil gas station bathroom on White Street in March. Danbury Police responded to check the well being of a woman and found her in medical distress. The woman wasn't breathing on her own and was hospitalized for a time. Officers found two syringes and three "folds" of suspected heroin. Budd was charged with possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of a controlled substance.