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Suspected Drug Overdoses Claim 10 Lives In Scranton This Week

December 20, 2018

Suspected drug overdoses claimed two more lives in Scranton on Wednesday, the ninth and tenth people to die of overdoses in the city in a week. The latest casualty is a 45-year-old man found dead at about 6:15 p.m. in a Penn Avenue home in the Green Ridge section of the city, Scranton police Chief Carl Graziano said. About 12 hours earlier, a 26-year-old man was found dead in a sober home, a residence for addicts in early recovery. The 26-year-old was found at about 6:20 a.m. Wednesday at 1321 Vine St., Graziano said. City officials were unaware that the building is a sober home because such residences require no licensing in Pennsylvania. They are not classified as medical facilities and the city has no registry of sober homes within its limits. The deaths mark 10 suspected drug overdoses in Scranton since Dec. 13. Six people died over the weekend alone. Typically, the county sees about two to three overdose deaths a week. So far this year, roughly 65 deaths have been confirmed as overdoses, but more are pending. Officials believe the year’s total could exceed 90. There were 88 overdose deaths in Lackawanna County last year. Officials did not identify any of Wednesday’s victims. Police are investigating the source of the drugs believed consumed in each death and treating each death as a potential homicide. Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell said there is an “alarming increase in dangerous fentanyl-laced heroin in our community.” Two other people in Scranton overdosed Wednesday but were revived with naloxone, an anti-overdose agent, he said. “We are actively investigating each of the overdose deaths to determine if there are any connections between them and to find the parties responsible for supplying the drugs,” Powell said. Many who die from overdoses have a several drugs in their bodies bought from several different people, Graziano said. Fentanyl was present in a quarter of all toxicology tests for fatal 2016 overdoses in Pennsylvania, according to the most recent state coroners association report. Other than heroin, other prevalent drugs present in such tests are benzodiazepines, cocaine, other opioids and alcohol. Wednesday’s 26-year-old victim is the youngest of those who died since Thursday. The other deceased are men ages 66, 56, 50, two 45 year olds, 43, and 34 and women ages 38 and 34. Powell urged those with information about the source of the drugs to contact the district attorney’s office at 570-963-6717. CLAYTON OVER, staff writer, contributed to this story. Contact the writers: jkohut@timesshamrock.com, 570-348-9144; @jkohutTT; ckelly@timesshamrock.com, 570-348-9100 x5435

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