Heroin deaths in York County in 2014 top all of 2013 already

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | May 29, 2014 1:09 PM

(Harrisburg) -- The number of people who have died in York County this year after overdosing on heroin stands at 19, topping the number of heroin overdose deaths for all of 2013.


York County's District Attorney Thomas Kearney says the numbers, current as of Tuesday, show five other cases remain under investigation.

"I believe that more people are using heroin, that's the reason we're seeing more deaths. I also think that as a result of the influx and the need of people, the heroin traffic, they're cutting it differently, we're seeing a lot of fentanyl cutting it, people only get the needles out of their arm," says Kearney.

Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller that can be mixed with heroin, and is blamed for 22 deaths in western Pennsylvania earlier this year.

Law enforcement is warning heroin is more available and cheaper than at nearly any other time in Pennsylvania, saying that people can purchase the drug for as little as $3.


Kearney says the drug is often coming from Mexico, and is cheapest around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, as well as the northeast part of the state.

"There's just no comprehensive, integrated statewide program to report such overdoses. We have to deal with hospitals on an individual basis, we have to deal with EMS providers, we have to deal with families in a lot of cases," says Jonathan Duecker, the Special Agent in Charge of the state Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics.

Since the start of the year, Berks, Dauphin, and Franklin counties have all held town halls, and Lancaster County's Drug Task Force called it the most abused drug in the county besides marijuana.

Kearney and others spoke on WITF's Smart Talk this week.

Also, tonight on both WITF Radio and TV at 8, check out the special from Penn State Public Media: "Heroin - A Commonwealth Crisis".

Published in Harrisburg, Lancaster, News, York

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