By Brittany Davis
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced the arrest of three drug dealers, two from Suffolk who were caught with 22 grams of a synthetic drug – powerful enough to kill thousands of users.
The synthetic opioid, Fentanyl, is cheaper and stronger than heroin, is used clinically on end stage cancer patients, and has been linked with an increasing number of cocaine and Heroin-related overdose deaths – here and across the tristate area.
The arrests announced today come after an investigation into 3 overdoses that occurred in a single day last week, in the Massapequa area. The investigation was done by the Joint heroin task force, comprised of Nassau and Suffolk police departments and other federal agencies, which was created in February 2016. The task force has made more than 200 arrests.
“Fentanyl is a serious drug and we issued a Deadly Drug Alert several times over the past two years as it reached our border,” County Executive Mangano said. “Last year, 190 people in Nassau died from opiate overdoses – 62 of which were caused by fentanyl. I commend the men and women of Long Island’s Joint Heroin Task Force for tracking down the sources of heroin overdoses, arresting drug thugs and removing them from our streets.”
On Monday, June 5, Nassau Narcotics officers arrested Randall L. Robinson, 31, and Liliana M. Vasquez, 27, as they sat in a 2003 Mercedes Benz in the parking lot of a Rite Aid in Copiague. Randall was arrested for the possession and intent to sell 3 grams of heroin. Vasquez, who had her 21-month old child in the back seat of the car, was charged with Criminal facilitation and endangering the welfare of a child.
On Tuesday, June 6 officers captured Robert P. Evanson, 30, and Kevin Forrester, 29, who were in a 2015 Nissan Altima. They were arrested for possession and intent to sell 22 grams of Fentanyl.
Last week, the New York City Health Department put out a warning that fentanyl is being linked with an increasing number of cocaine-related overdose deaths. And on the same day, Suffolk Police Commissioner Tim Sini held a news conference informing the public that there were 22 overdoses in 48-hours – related to Fentanyl in heroin, prescription painkillers, cocaine or a combination of the three. There was one confirmed death so far.
Cocaine, Xanax and other illicit drugs are being laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl, often without the users’ knowledge. Experts say that a minimal amount of Fentanyl can lead to death.
County Executive Mangano urged resident who see any of the powdery substance, to call 911 and not handle it themselves.
Nassau County’s Chief Toxicologist said fentanyl has been found in many – if not most – cases of heroin related overdoses, and more recently of cocaine related overdoses. Of the 190 people who died from opioid overdoses in Nassau County last year, 62 were caused by Fentanyl.
As part of the Mangano administration’s multi-pronged approach to battling the opiate crisis, a Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force- made of up drug treatment providers, education officials, etc – meets monthly in his offices and works to bring awareness and education to residents about the dangers of Opiates. Last year, the task force was given a community service award from the NYS PTA for “what they have achieved on behalf of the children and youth in their school, community, and state.”
District Attorney Madeline Singas, who joined Mangano at today’s press announcement, said: “We cannot arrest our way out of the epidemic, And she urged people to call the 24/7 hotline 227-TALK (8255) for support and treatment referrals.
Fentanyl can cause an overdose by contact, as it can be absorbed into the skin or accidentally inhaled. So authorities are advising people to not touch a suspected substance. Under the Good Samaritan Law, calling 911 protects the caller from criminal charges if someone is need of assistance.
Opioid related deaths can be prevented, if someone nearby has Naloxone and has been trained on how to administer it. Nassau County offers free overdose prevention workshops – with naloxone training – for non-medically trained residents.
The next session is tomorrow June 8th at New Horizon Counseling Center in Valley Stream from 7 to 9 p.m. You can register and get more information at www.nassaucountyny.gov/overdose. New Yorkers can also now get naloxone without a prescription at the pharmacy.
If you or a loved one is in need of support or treatment, or struggling with drug dependence, please call our 24/7 support line 227- TALK.