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9/3/2010 8:40:00 AM
NWI facing return of laced heroin, possibility of more drug overdoses and death

Teresa Auch Schultz, Post-Tribune

Fentanyl-laced heroin appears to have returned to Northwest Indiana, leading to an increase in drug overdoses and deaths, according to Porter-Starke Services.

Rocco Schiralli said in a letter to the Post-Tribune that the lethal mix has helped kill six people in Porter County in the last two months, along with more than 20 near-fatal overdoses.

Carmen Arlt, director of addiction services at Porter-Starke, said her staff has been hearing more and more from clients at the methadone clinic of fellow drug users overdosing on heroin. So far, it appears to be similar to what happened five years ago when the county was first hit with fentanyl-laced heroin, she said.

Fentanyl is a synthetic drug used to manage pain or for anesthesia. When mixed with heroin, it can become deadly.

"Essentially you're out," Arlt said, adding the only reason some people were saved is because other people were nearby when they passed out.

Getting exact numbers on the drug problem in Porter County is not easy. Porter hospital did not have available figures on how many were admitted to the emergency room because of drug overdoses, according to a spokeswoman. Porter County Coroner Bob Schulte said he believed the death tally of six people in the last two months is correct, although he did not have immediate access to statistics.

The news comes on the heels of an announcement from the Porter County prosecutor's office that three people were arrested Wednesday in Chesterton in relation to an ongoing heroin investigation.

According to a release from Prosecutor Brian Gensel, Dana Huck, 22, of Valparaiso was caught buying the drug from Ross Berg, 22, of Hanna. John Ulreich, 26, of Valparaiso was seen driving Huck to the transaction and was arrested on a Class D felony charge of assisting a criminal. Huck was charged with possession of a controlled substance, a Class D felony, and Berg was charged with dealing a controlled substance, a Class B felony.

Related Stories:
• Suicides, fatal overdoses alarming Porter County

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