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InvisibleveggieM

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 14,536
Loc: Flag
Key source of lethal heroin discovered [NJ]
    #6394501 - 12/21/06 05:42 PM (14 years, 5 months ago)

Key source of lethal heroin discovered
December 21, 2006 - Philadelphia Inquirer

Authorities have taken down a major supplier of heroin laced with the painkiller fentanyl, a potentially lethal mixture responsible for as many as 100 deaths across the Philadelphia region this year.

Police and federal agents discovered 300 grams of fentanyl and nearly a kilogram of heroin in a heroin-processing "mill" in the basement of a Pennsauken house during the summer, authorities said.

The 300 grams would have been enough to spike 40,000 doses of heroin, typically sold for $10 a bag.

"That represents half the population of Camden that could have gotten a bag of fentanyl," said Gerard P. McAleer, the Drug Enforcement Administration special agent in charge for New Jersey. "It was pure fentanyl. It hadn't been diluted."

The man charged with running the heroin mill - Jaime Castellar, 30 - supplied drug dealers in Camden and Philadelphia, the DEA said.

Although investigators could not say Castellar was the sole source of the heroin that sparked the overdose epidemic, deaths from fentanyl have dropped off significantly since the bust, authorities said.

"There is a cause and effect here," McAleer said in an interview yesterday. "It's interesting. Things did start to slow down after the seizure."

Investigators came upon the heroin mill after a naked man, yelling to neighbors for help, ran from the rented Union Avenue house on July 21. Workers in heroin mills typically are forced to work in the nude to prevent theft, McAleer said.

The man said robbers had invaded the small, two-story house.

"He actually said, 'Help me, but don't call the police,' " McAleer said. "Naturally, they called the cops."

Pennsauken officers discovered blood at the house and signs that heroin was being processed there. They obtained a search warrant and contacted the DEA.

Though he was not the man who was running, Castellar was hurt in the home invasion and treated at a hospital. He left before he could be detained. State authorities took out a warrant, but he wasn't arrested until October, when federal drug charges were filed against him.

Castellar remains in federal custody, and his attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment yesterday.

The DEA divulged the details of the arrest yesterday for the first time, as the investigation continued.

Investigators said that they did not know where Castellar had gotten the fentanyl, but that they believed it had been manufactured illegally - possibly in Mexico or another foreign country.

Fentanyl flooded drug corners across the nation in the spring and summer, causing dozens of death in Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh and along the East Coast. Fentanyl-laced heroin has been blamed for deaths as recently as Thanksgiving in Massachusetts.

"This is probably the biggest threat that I've seen to the public, and I lived through the crack wars," McAleer said. "The fentanyl problem is small now, but if it gets any bigger, it will be devastating."

The DEA has responded with Operation Undertaker, an initiative that not only includes law enforcement, but also training and education for police, paramedics, and chemical and pharmaceutical companies.

Fentanyl is a legal painkiller, described as 80 times more powerful than morphine, often used in surgery or given to terminal cancer patients.

But the fentanyl in heroin hasn't been stolen from legitimate sources. Illicit fentanyl was found in 95 percent of the 260 samples of spiked heroin tested in the summer in New Jersey.

Although the painkiller likely is being made across the border, DEA couldn't rule out a domestic source. In addition to pharmaceutical and chemical companies, the DEA has asked colleges with large chemistry departments to keep better track of the chemicals used to make fentanyl.

"In order to manufacture fentanyl, you have to have the wherewithal... . You have to have the white-coat education," McAleer said. "Anyone who has that ability, we're talking to."

Police and other first responders also have been warned about the dangers of fentanyl. Agents who went into the mill in Pennsauken were dressed in Level II protective gear that made them look like "scuba divers with machine guns," McAleer said.

If the fentanyl powder gets into the air, it can cause overdoses, he said. The drug is so powerful that K-9 dogs can't be trained to sniff for it.

The first victims in this region were found in April, many of them customers of Camden drug markets. Overdoses quickly followed in Philadelphia and spread throughout the region.

Fentanyl can paralyze the chest wall, stopping breathing. As little as 125 micrograms - the equivalent of three grains of salt - can be lethal.

Fentanyl was blamed for as many as 100 deaths on both sides of Delaware River this year, and an untold number of nonfatal overdoses.

The painkiller is added to increase the potency - and, thus, the popularity - of the heroin. Authorities in the summer were stunned to find that their warnings to avoid drug corners with spiked heroin only increased the demand from addicts looking for a greater high.

The problem, McAleer said, is that people working in basement heroin mills aren't exactly scientific about their methods, and they can easily put too much fentanyl in a bag.

"They don't have any technical measurement equipment," he said. "A typical mill, they're sitting around, using tiny spoons."


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OfflineSeussA
Error: divide byzero

Folding@home Statistics
Registered: 04/27/01
Posts: 23,480
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Re: Key source of lethal heroin discovered [NJ] [Re: veggie]
    #6396082 - 12/22/06 08:05 AM (14 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

The problem, McAleer said, is that people working in basement heroin mills aren't exactly scientific about their methods, and they can easily put too much fentanyl in a bag.




If drugs were legal, then processes would be standardized and things like this wouldn't happen...


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Invisiblevinsue
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Registered: 02/17/04
Posts: 17,906
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Re: Key source of lethal heroin discovered [NJ] [Re: veggie]
    #6396108 - 12/22/06 08:27 AM (14 years, 5 months ago)

Glad I quit :syringe:  20 + years ago...


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Invisiblemskip23
Can It All Be So Simple!
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1,519
Loc: Philly
Re: Key source of lethal heroin discovered [NJ] [Re: vinsue]
    #6397030 - 12/22/06 03:32 PM (14 years, 5 months ago)

They charge a guy with 20 -life for sellin that shit around here...thats serious time


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OfflineOjom
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Re: Key source of lethal heroin discovered [NJ] [Re: mskip23]
    #6398707 - 12/23/06 07:07 AM (14 years, 5 months ago)

Glad to see these guys get busted. I'd be willing to bet the home invasion was likely an attempt on that fuckwad's life because he was probably responsible for the deaths of several of the perpetrators associates.


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OfflineCrystal G
I'm a teapot


Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 19,584
Loc: outer space
Last seen: 2 months, 11 days
Re: Key source of lethal heroin discovered [NJ] [Re: veggie]
    #7537742 - 10/20/07 02:01 AM (13 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

veggie said:
Fentanyl can paralyze the chest wall, stopping breathing. As little as 125 micrograms - the equivalent of three grains of salt - can be lethal.




uh, is this really true? can somebody verify this claim? because if i recall reading in medical journals, between 100-500mics or so is the standard IV dose for patients before surgery.


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OfflineSeussA
Error: divide byzero


Folding@home Statistics
Registered: 04/27/01
Posts: 23,480
Loc: Caribbean
Last seen: 11 days, 7 hours
Re: Key source of lethal heroin discovered [NJ] [Re: Crystal G]
    #7538186 - 10/20/07 05:03 AM (13 years, 7 months ago)

> uh, is this really true? can somebody verify this claim?

The wording used is basically meaningless. They don't mention humans, so they could be talking about monkeys or rats. They don't mention body weight, so they could be talking about a newborn infant rather than adult. They don't mention pathway of delivery, so we don't know if it was IV, IM, SQ, oral, transdermal, etc. They don't mention tolerance. etc, etc, etc...


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