CLEVELAND - Two Cleveland men are charged with trafficking a particularly deadly mix of heroin on Cleveland’s west side this week.
Cuyahoga County prosecutors allege Ralph Torres and Rafael Torres II were selling a deadly mix of heroin, called ‘China White,’ that killed one person and nearly killed four others this week.
Prosecutors allege the heroin was mixed with a potent drug called fentanyl.
"There was one non-fatal overdose that was related to fentanyl over these past few days and then it looks like we've had two, maybe three, fatal overdoses on fentanyl as well," Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson said. Gilson issued a public health warning over fentanyl, which he says is 15-20 times more potent than heroin.
"Fentanyl is an anesthetic. That's what they use when they put people asleep to do heart surgery," Gilson said.
Gilson believes some drug dealers are using fentanyl as a substitution or cutting agent with heroin.
"These aren't situations where people know what they are buying and because it is so much more potent than heroin, it's so much more easy to overdose on this," Gilson said.
"It's horrifying," said Tony Parker, the executive director of The Lantern, an addiction recovery center on Cleveland's west side. He's on the front line battling the heroin epidemic.
"These young men and women don't know the repercussion of what's going to happen. If the medical examiner is putting it out there - that means they are seeing a lot of bodies that shouldn't be there," Parker said.
CLICK HERE for much more on the heroin epidemic, including Bill Sheil’s special series on ‘Heroin Hits Home.’