New Jersey

14 People Overdose on Fentanyl-Laced Heroin in Camden in Four Hours: Officials

The New Jersey attorney general later tweeted that Camden had suffered a 'mass overdose' of 'fentanyl-laced heroin.'

Fourteen people overdosed in Camden in a four-hour period Wednesday from what the New Jersey attorney general described as "fentanyl-laced heroin."

None of the overdose victims died, but most of them were taken to Cooper University Medical Center. All of the overdoses occurred in the South Camden area, Camden County Police Department spokesman Dan Keashen said.

Michael Corsello, 27, told NBC10 he was one of the 14 people who overdosed. He spent several hours in the emergency room.

"My hands were bound," Corsello said. "They said that I was freaking out. I was punching myself in the face. They said that I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I was going ballistic and then I just dropped."

The series of overdoses took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with many occurring on Broadway south of the Police Administration Building.

Police made an arrest related to the overdoses, Keashen said. Alexander Velazquez, 54, was charged Thursday with distribution. 

New Jersey Attorney General Chris Porrino later tweeted from his personal account with a sense of urgency about the "mass overdose."

Corsello was holding heroin in his hands while speaking to NBC10 and said he planned on using it as soon as he finished the interview. He also desperately wanted to share a message about the toll his addiction has taken on him. 

"I have bald spots in my head," he said. "I've gotta wear a mohawk for the rest of my life. I've got scars all over my body because of this drug. I want every kid to understand, if they can stay away from this, I've ruined three families."

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid about 100 times more potent than heroin. When used illegally, it is often converted to powder form by drug dealers.

The proliferation of opioids continues to claim more lives across the nation than car crashes and homicides. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 142 people die from a drug overdose every day. Half of the deaths are linked to opioids.

President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency in August at the urging of the presidential opioid commission. The commission is led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has focused his last months in office around combating the opioid epidemic.

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