At least a half-dozen people have been charged by authorities in and around Pittsburgh with possessing heroin that is stamped with street names linked to drugs that investigators believe have caused 22 fatal overdoses in recent weeks.
April Opperman, 41, of Zelienople, was charged with possessing heroin stamped “Theraflu” after a man who survived a Saturday overdose told police he bought the drugs from Opperman. She remained jailed Thursday and online court records didn't list whether she has an attorney.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh police arrested two men pulled over in a car, one of whom had 36 of the “Theraflu” individual dose bags in his underwear, while officers in nearby Homestead have warrants for two men after seizing 1,500 baggies of heroin labeled “Bud Ice” from a house.
On Thursday, Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced similar charges against 39-year-old Tywon Laniel Newby of Clairton. Newby is being held at the Allegheny County Jail, unable to post $250,000 bond. No attorney was listed on court papers.
The Allegheny County medical examiner's office and other authorities have said heroin bags stamped with those names have also tested positive for fentanyl, a synthetic morphine substitute that can be up to 100 times stronger than heroin, and is being blamed for the deaths.
Investigators in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence and Westmoreland counties were sharing information on arrests in hopes the source or sources of the deadly drugs can be traced.
Clayton McCray, 19, of Mount Oliver, and Frederick Knight Jr., of Pittsburgh, have been jailed since their arrest Tuesday when city police stopped McCray for driving with a suspended license. Officers found heroin stamped “Dope Boyz” in McCray's pockets, before finding the “Theraflu” heroin in Knight's underwear. Online court records don't list attorneys for the men.
Meanwhile, police in neighboring Homestead have obtained arrest warrants for two men after Sunday's drug seizure, but don't plan to announce the suspects' names until they're arrested.
“I'm sure they are going to go underground,” Homestead police Chief Jeffrey DeSimone said. “I don't want to make it harder to find them.”