Chesterton Tribune


Unevenly mixed heroin deadly here

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The director of the Porter County Drug Task Force (DTF) is blaming an unevenly mixed batch of heroin for a surge in fatal overdoses this year.

Already in 2013 there have been nine suspected or confirmed heroin-related deaths reported in the county, Coroner Chuck Harris told the Chesterton Tribune on Monday. Those nine deaths equal the 12-month total reported in 2012.

The latest suspected heroin-related deaths: two Dunelanders, both men, found deceased in Chesterton residences on Friday. In both cases paraphernalia--including syringes and spoons--were recovered at the scene, the CPD confirmed. The victims’ average age: 29. The results of toxicology screens on both victims are pending, Harris said.

DTF Director Bob Taylor does not believe that the heroin currently making its way into Porter County has been tainted. Instead, it appears not to have been mixed evenly and users may be chipping off pieces of product which are nearly 100 percent pure, Taylor said.

The batch on the streets right now--virtually all of it traced to Dolton, Ill.--has the appearance of “limestone,” Taylor said. And though an assay conducted on Dec. 20 of a pulverized sample showed a purity of 48.14 percent by weight--much higher than the typical 30 percent--the real problem lies in the rock-like consistency of the product.

Like a piece of ore with a vein of pure silver or metal in it, Taylor explained, the heroin presently being sold is streaked with layers of lesser and greater purity. A user who flakes off a piece with only 2 percent purity may be unsatisfied with the results and “double up,” Taylor said. Or the user may flake off a piece which is 100 percent pure.

The best idea is simply not to use, Taylor emphasized. But persons who do must “smash it” before shooting it in order to mix the layers thoroughly. “Otherwise you’re probably getting 100 percent heroin.”

The Dec. 20 assay, Taylor noted, showed the usual additives--diphenhydramine, papaverine, methanol, acetone, and N-propanol--but no taint.

“It’s dangerous stuff out there right now,” Taylor said. “And the results are showing up. That’s the only heroin we’re seeing at the moment: the limestone-looking rock.”