A scourge of overdose deaths related to a “bad batch” of what is believed to be fentanyl-laced cocaine has led to five overdose deaths in Southold and one on Shelter Island this week, a string of tragic deaths unlike any Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said his town has seen before.
Four of the six deaths occurred on Friday alone.
The Shelter Island Police Department reported that a 40-year-old resident of Shelter Island died Aug. 13 of an apparent fentanyl overdose.
Police Chief Martin Flatley said he has brought in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office to assist his detectives as they gather evidence.
He said cocaine laced with fentanyl is suspected in the overdoses and deaths. The victims are concentrated throughout Southold Town, with one victim on Shelter Island police suspect is “associated with the batch going around.”
“They are [mostly] under 32 years of age, and some live with their family members,” Chief Flatley said.
The chief said the horror began seven days ago with the overdose of a 69-year-old man in Mattituck who was given Narcan by officers and survived. The chief said that night a 27-year-old male in Southold overdosed and died, and this was followed by a 28-year-old male from Southold. Of the four deaths on Friday, one was in Greenport Village, one was in East Marion, a third in Southold and the fourth on Shelter Island. A second survivor suffered an overdose in the King Kullen parking lot in Cutchogue and was treated with three doses of Narcan.
“It was one after another,” the chief said. “These are people who fly under the radar. Some live with their families and family members knew there was a problem.”
As for the likely source, the chief said it “reached the East End and it could be anywhere.”
“We are interviewing family members – who did this person talk to? We are taking cell phones and looking for common calls,” he said. “We spent until 2 this morning doing that, but thankfully no deaths overnight.”
As of Saturday morning, police did not have enough evidence to make an arrest, though the district attorney’s office has assisted with search warrants, the chief said.
In a press release Saturday afternoon, The Southold Town police Department warned: “We collectively urge that anyone who has purchased cocaine, or other narcotics, recently on the North Fork or Shelter Island, or know of a family member or friend that has purchased, safely dispose of these potentially lethal products.”
The chief said he wants the public to know there is toxic cocaine on the North Fork. Asked if the death toll will rise, he said he hoped not.
“We want people who are users to know this is very, very dangerous,” he said.
“There is something very bad out there,” he added. “Very bad. We are working very hard to find out where this is coming from. So many victims live with family members. A young man who died yesterday. His whole family was in the house.
“The message is this: We want people to know these drugs are here and they are tainted and they are killing people.”