LORAIN — A Lorain police raid Tuesday turned up suspected fentanyl, the powerful painkiller police believe is responsible for a series of sometimes-fatal drug overdoses this month, and led to the arrest of an alleged high-level drug dealer.
Lorain police Sgt. Tom Nimon said officers seized roughly 30 grams of suspected fentanyl, 20 grams of heroin, 5 grams of cocaine and cash during a raid at 1509 Fillmore Ave., where Jason Vasquez, 35, was arrested. He said police also found another drug, but that, like the suspected fentanyl, still needs to be tested.
“It’s something else, we’re not sure,” Nimon said. “It could be a different kind of heroin.”
Most of the drugs were found on the kitchen counter, accessible to the 5-year-old girl inside the house, he said.
Nimon said investigators from the Lorain County Drug Task Force and narcotics units in Elyria and Lorain have been working overtime to cut off the supply of deadly fentanyl that has caused at least 26 overdoses, including two deaths, this month.
Although there have been numerous arrests during the investigation, including last week’s bust of 20-year-old Antwan Taylor, who was caught with fentanyl, Nimon said narcotics detectives wanted to find the “upper tier.”
The investigations led officers to Vasquez, who has an extensive criminal record including convictions for drug trafficking and other offenses such as felonious assault.
“Everything that we heard and learned was pointing to this one individual,” Nimon said.
Vasquez faces charges of trafficking and possession of cocaine, heroin and Schedule II drugs, as well as possession of criminal tools and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Also arrested during Tuesday’s raid was Vasquez’s girlfriend, Ciera Calloway, 23, who faces charges of possession of heroin and cocaine and child endangering. Nimon said Calloway is the mother of the child found in the home.
Despite Vasquez’s arrest, Nimon said it’s too early to tell whether the supply of fentanyl has been cut off in the county.
He said junkies questioned in the case have told officers they are seeking out the drug because it’s so much more powerful than ordinary heroin. He said one dose of fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than a single dose of ordinary heroin.
Some of the junkies can’t help themselves from seeking out another high despite the danger and media reports on overdoses and deaths, he said.
“Physically, addiction overrides, I would say, their common sense,” Nimon said.
Both Vasquez and Calloway were being held without bond at the Lorain City Jail on Tuesday and are due in court today.