With the Wayne County, Mi., death toll hitting 19 in less than five days, a team of local, state and federal law enforcement agents is fighting the nation’s worst outbreak of deaths from a mix of heroin or cocaine and a powerful prescription painkiller, reports the Detroit Free Press. Two officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came to Detroit to join officials in their efforts to track down the source or sources of the drug mix.
Officials don’t know whether this use of fentanyl is the beginning of a trend. “We don’t know the extent of the problem,” said Robert Corso, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agent in charge in Detroit. The surge in deaths in Wayne County is highly unusual — and the increase is far greater than in any other metro area in the past week, Corso said. Some families of drug users who died say they are upset authorities did not do more earlier. Police acknowledge that they have been investigating the source of the drug mix in Wayne County since November and that police have been dealing with the issue in other major cities. Metro Detroit has had more than twice as many deaths from the drug combination in recent months as Chicago, a larger Midwest city.