December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Police investigate new opiate-based drug in rash of overdoses

ELYRIA — A new, dangerously potent opiate-based drug may be the cause of a rash of overdoses and two deaths in Lorain County last weekend.

Over the course of two days, 21 incidents of drug overdoses were reported to police, with two resulting in death.

One law enforcement agency believes the drug responsible is one that dealers and users call China White, an especially potent form of heroin mixed with the pain drug fentanyl, which is similar to morphine. China White is usually seen in larger cities, Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino said.

But according to Lorain police Lt. Roger Watkins, “This isn’t testing positive for heroin,” referring to the drugs that police recovered in some of the Lorain overdose cases.

Watkins and Costantino both said the drug is opiate-based because police and emergency responders were able to revive some victims with Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, a synthetic narcotic that works solely on people suffering from opiate-related overdoses.

The overdoses began Friday evening and lasted through Sunday. On Saturday, an Elyria woman and an Amherst Township man were both reported dead by possible overdoses, according to police. Their names have not been released.

Elyria Police Narcotics, Lorain Police and the Lorain County Drug Task Force launched an investigation into the rash of drug overdoses Friday night. By Sunday afternoon, police made their first arrest.

Siarres Noble, 29, of Elyria — also known as “Sizzle” — was charged with three counts of drug trafficking Sunday afternoon after being picked up in the 200 block of Brunswick Drive in Elyria.

Costantino said that throughout the course of the investigation, Noble’s name kept coming up and that police received information that Noble had been selling China White around Elyria.

Noble was being held Monday at Lorain County Jail.

Police said they will know more when they can positively identify the drug. The Lorain County crime lab is conducting tests on the drugs that were recovered.

Costantino said users aren’t getting what they think when they buy the drug.

“The key thing is we want people to know they’re not buying heroin,” Costantino said.

The number of overdoses in the span of two days continues to puzzle police.

“We’ve had two different spikes before, but not to this great a magnitude,” Lorain County Sheriff Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh said.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.