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As if heroin isnâ€™t enough, Cape May County law enforcement officials say the drug is sometimes cut with a deadly additive called fentanyl.
Recently, officials have warned that an influx of cheaper, more powerful heroin into the county has meant a spike in overdoses. Now, there are indications that an additive to the drug could be making it even more dangerous.
Since the start of the year, the Cape May County Prosecutorâ€™s Office and local departments have responded to 99 drug overdoses, of which 24 have been fatal. During a recent investigation in Wildwood, seized heroin tested positive for fentanyl, which Prosecutor Robert Taylor described as an extremely powerful narcotic used for severe or chronic pain. According to officials, it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and is commonly used for cancer patients, usually administered as a patch, lozenge pills, in a shot or a film placed on the tongue.
â€śAn unregulated ingestion of fentanyl in your system could lead to serious problems and most often death,â€ť reads a statement from Taylorâ€™s office.
During the investigation of overdoses, police in a number of instances found wax paper folds, often marked with an identifying stamp, as well as needles, spoons and other items associated with heroin use.
These heroin bags, collected as evidence, along with bags of heroin and other drugs seized during investigations, are sent to the Cape May County Forensic Laboratory for testing.
â€śBy having a forensic laboratory within the Cape May County Prosecutorâ€™s Office, the results required to determine the identification of a substance in a short period of time is able to be accomplished and this helps identifying a suspect and or potential deadly substance, which can be the direct cause of many of these overdoses,â€ť states the release from the prosecutorâ€™s office.
Although the laboratory examines drugs seized within Cape May County, they do not have the staff to test each substance submitted to determine purity levels. Taylor said that DEA statistics show recent purity levels of heroin in southern New Jersey have been as high as 63 percent, with a national average of 25 percent.
The Cape May County Prosecutorâ€™s Office Gangs, Guns and Narcotics Task Force is â€śworking vigorously hand in hand with each of the local police departments in the county to find the source or sources of these heroin distributors and distributors of any illegal substances in an attempt to help prevent any further tragedies from these drug related overdoes,â€ť states the release.
Taylor urges families to educate their children as to the dangers of heroin and other illegal drugs and to continue to report any information regarding illegal drug activity or any criminal activity within the community. This information can be reported anonymously through the Cape May County Sheriffs Tip Line at cmcsheriff.net and clicking on anonymous tip, or through the Cape May County Crime Stoppers at 609-465-2800 or 877-465-2801, Cape May County Prosecutorâ€™s Office at 609-465-1168.