NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 5, 2014

Rash of heroin overdoses leads to warning

SALISBURY -- After responding to two drug overdoses this morning, local police is warning all heroin users to stop, saying the next fix they take could be fatal.

Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler said EMTs and police responded to two different calls before 11 a.m. involving heroin overdoses and are now tracking the source of the highly addictive and dangerous drug.

"We believe it is coming out of Lawrence," Fowler said.

The first victim, a 19-year-old woman, was reported just before 8 a.m. near Beach Road. The second victim, a 23-year-old man, was reported less than an hour later along Salisbury Beach. Both victims were expected to recover.

"Thankfully, they were non-lethal overdoses thanks to Narcan," Fowler said, referring to the anti-heroin drug used by EMTs.

Fowler said it was too early to tell whether the victims were using the same heroin as there was no branding information on the heroin seized.

Word of tainted heroin comes just days after Portsmouth, Seabrook and other Southern New Hampshire communities have reported drug overdoses connected to bad heroin. In Portsmouth last month, three people overdosed, with one person dying, within a 24-hour period.The outbreak prompted officials there to issue a warning about bad heroin.

More recently, three people in Salem, N.H. overdosed on possibly tainted narcotics within 24 hours of each other, according to police there.

Days before this morning's heroin overdoses, local police arrested Ian Osbourne, 34, of Hampton, N.H. and charged him with heroin distribution after finding 12 grams of heroin in his right shoe.

Fowler said it was too early to determine whether Osbourne was responsible for bringing bad heroin into the community but said police would continue to explore that possibility.

Fowler admitted that sending out a warning to heroin users to stop taking drugs may fall on deaf ears or may seem odd considering the drug is illegal.

"The reality is we have users in the area and I felt it was important to get the word out," Fowler said.

Police chiefs in Newburyport and Amesbury said there have been no drug overdoses in those cities this morning.

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