3 arrested in connection with overdoses in New Haven - WFSB 3 Connecticut

3 arrested in connection with overdoses in New Haven

Posted: Updated:
(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)
NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

Authorities arrested three people after a batch of tainted heroin led to deaths, overdoses and caused a public health emergency in New Haven. 

Last week, three people died and more than 20 others overdosed on a batch of tainted heroin in the Elm City. Police said most people thought they were buying cocaine. However after testing, it appears that the substances was pure fentanyl, which is a powerful opioid that can be at least 50 times more powerful than heroin.  

The New Haven Police Department and Yale-New Haven Hospital are concerned about the overdoses. New Haven officials declared a public emergency in the city last week following the fatal overdoses. 

Police arrested 57-year-old Frank Pina, 55-year-old Jerome Clay Sr., and 48-year-old Steven Whaley.

Pina and Clay were charged with possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of controlled substance, and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Whaley was charged with possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of controlled substances.

Officials said it is alleged that Pina, Clay and Whaley supplied drugs to at least 12 of the people who overdosed on June 23, including at least two victims who died.

“Without the combined effort of federal and local law enforcement, emergency medical personnel and city officials, a terrible public health crisis could have been much worse,” said U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly in a press release. “We promised that we would act swiftly and that is exactly what our DEA agents, New Haven Police officers and federal prosecutors have done. I thank our partners at the DEA, particularly members of its Tactical Diversion Squad, and the New Haven Police Department for their excellent work in quickly and expertly tracking down the source of these deadly drugs. Now it is our job to bring those responsible for these overdoses to justice.”

“Anytime there is a loss of life involving a drug overdose it is a tragic event; but even more so in this case given the number of victims in less than one day,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael Ferguson. “Those suffering from the disease of fentanyl and heroin addiction need access to treatment and recovery. But, those responsible for distributing these lethal drugs like fentanyl and purporting it to be cocaine to the citizens of New Haven need to be held accountable for their actions. In response to the ongoing opioid epidemic DEA and its local, state and federal partners are committed to bringing to justice those that distribute this poison.”

“New Haven Police detectives and the Criminal Intelligence Unit worked flat out from Thursday afternoon through this weekend to save New Haven lives and track down the individuals responsible for dealing these drugs,” said New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman. “I could not be more proud of them. I am just as grateful to our federal partners for working side by side with us. We came together in a time of emergency and stopped the dying.”

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.