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Overdose Deaths From Potent Heroin Mix Spike in Erie County, But Not Rochester

Twenty-three people died from overdoses in an 11-day period in Erie County recently after using a potent combination of heroin and the synthetic opiate fentanyl.

There is no such spike in deaths in the Rochester area, according to officials at the Monroe County Medial Examiners office.

Though Rochester and Buffalo are close geographically, the pipelines that distribute illegal drugs are distinctly different for each area.

But Jim Wesley, drug chemistry supervisor at the Monroe County Crime Lab, says he is starting to see some fentanyl-like drugs show up in the heroin obtained in local arrests.                  

"So these drugs are not in the law and they're brand new, and when you see one, you don't even know what it is because you don't have a standard for it."

Wesley said he stays in touch with chemists in other labs in Upstate New York and Pennsylvania whenever he finds an unrecognizable substance.

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin.