DEA launches tipline after Pittsburgh heroin overdoses

Anyone with information on the lethal heroin can text anonymous information

January 28, 2014

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s local field office in Pittsburgh launched an anonymous tipline for information about the recent rash of heroin overdose deaths in Western Pennsylvania.

Anyone with information related to the heroin and fentanyl overdoses in the area can send tips through text messages to the DEA’s local office.

The texts can be sent to TIP411 with the keyword PGHOD in the “To” field. The identities of informants will remain confidential.

The tipline comes days after a rash of overdose deaths in the Allegheny, Armstrong and Westmoreland counties from a potent mix of heroin and fentanyl. Pittsburgh area authorities linked at least 15 deaths to heroin overdoses in the past week. Many of the stamp bags were marked “Theraflu,” “Income Tax” and “Bud Ice,” according to authorities.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton said his federal office in Pittsburgh is working with state and local law enforcement agencies to uncover the source of the drug.

“The recent dramatic increase in the number of heroin overdoses in our region has quickly become the most pressing crime problem for law enforcement,” Hickton said. “We will devote all necessary resources to stop the distribution in our area of this most lethal combination, a mix of heroin and fentanyl.”

He hoped the increase in overdoses would prompt addicts to seek treatment.

“We urge persons who are addicted, and those of you with loved ones who are addicted, to use this outbreak as a reason to seek treatment,” Hickton said. “Ingesting this form of heroin obviously carries a far greater risk than is typical, although overdoses are common with any form of heroin. We also ask for cooperation from the community in rooting out the source of these distributions.”

The Washington County coroner’s office said Tuesday that no heroin overdose deaths have been associated to those stamp bags in the county, although local authorities previously said they’ve seen those drugs in the area. However, at least six people in Washington County died in May and June from heroin overdoses that authorities think contained a lethal mix of fentanyl.

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane also announced Monday that she has also implemented a hotline for people to call the Pennsylvania Bureau of Narcotics Investigations. Anyone with information is asked to call the tipline at 1-800-442-8006.

“I urge the public to avoid this already dangerous drug, and to assist law enforcement in their investigations,” Kane said.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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