Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini issued a “buyer beware” notice to drug users about a deadly cocktail of cocaine and fentanyl that may be on the streets in Suffolk County.
The public safety alert, as he put it, comes as police are seeing an increase in overdoses, including in Riverhead, where at least three cocaine overdoses have been linked. An arrest was made in connection to one of the overdoses, Sini said, which was fatal.
“My office is investigating whether the presence of a deadly mixture of fentanyl-laced cocaine is responsible for causing overdoses in Suffolk County,” Sini said in a statement issued late in the evening May 22, the start of the Memorial Day weekend. “If you use cocaine, you are playing Russian roulette with your life.”
The urgent message from the DA’s office came after law enforcement received intelligence information that cocaine laced with fatal levels of opioid fentanyl may be on the market.
The White House’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas New York/New Jersey program is investigating 19 overdoses in Troy, New York — three of which were fatal — in less than 48 hours, all involving fentanyl-laced cocaine, according to a report issued on May 22. Additional overdoses in the surrounding areas are also being investigated for any links to what was found in Troy.
“These reports have led to a heightened concern that this deadly drug cocktail could be on the streets in Suffolk County,” Sini said. “The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a shortage of the supply of cocaine in our area. As a result, dealers are becoming desperate and greedy for profits, so we believe they may be deceiving their customers and selling them fentanyl, which is cheaper and more readily available.”
Just yesterday, May 21, Sini announced the arrest of 15 individuals linked to an alleged multimillion-dollar drug trafficking ring on Long Island, in which defendants were allegedly marking up the price of cocaine because of the supply shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Preliminary statistics show a 16 percent increase in fatal and non-fatal overdoses in Suffolk County as compared to this time last year,” Sini said. “We do not want to lose even more lives to this poison.”
There have been several fatal overdoses in the Riverhead area recently — three in less than 24 hours.
On May 20, the Riverhead Police Department reported a woman suffered a near-fatal opioid overdose at 3:08 AM. Later that same day, at 10:13 PM, Riverhead police received another 911 call regarding two men suffering apparent drug overdoses at a different residence. Upon arrival, police officers administered Narcan to one of the men, who first responders determined had died. The second victim was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment.
“A preliminary investigation revealed evidence that all three overdoses were connected to cocaine use, and the District Attorney’s Office is investigating whether the cocaine was laced with fentanyl,” the statement said.
The DA’s East End Drug Task Force arrested Tarell Holloway, 32, of Riverhead, in connection to that fatal overdose. It is the second arrest made this week in connection to a fatal overdose in Riverhead.
Holloway was charged May 22 with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree — all felonies. He will be arraigned in Suffolk County District Court in Central Islip on May 23.
Earlier this week, on May 20, Sini announced the arrest of two alleged drug dealers from Lake Grove, who police said were responsible for the overdose death of a man in Riverhead in late April.
Edward Primavera, 30, and Brooke Edwards, 35, were charged after a three-week investigation. A search warrant at their home allegedly revealed crack cocaine, fentanyl, and scales and packaging materials, along with over $1500 in cash. They were hit with drug possession charges, and also could face more serious charges once a grand jury convenes.
More charges could be added in either case if and when they are presented to a grand jury. Sini’s office has charged others in previous fatal overdose cases with manslaughter.