From The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review by Jason Cato, January 30, 2014
Authorities on Thursday said they arrested a Clairton man and seized more than 2,400 bags of heroin possibly connected to a deadly drug combination believed to have killed as many as two dozen people in Western Pennsylvania in the past two weeks.
Prosecutors from the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General charged Tywon Laniel Newby, 39, with a felony count of possessing with the intent to distribute heroin and a misdemeanor count of possessing heroin. He is being held at the Allegheny County Jail on $150,000 bond.
Newby was at least the fifth person arrested this week by various law enforcement agencies in the region seeking the source of the deadly fentanyl-laced heroin.
“Our agents and investigators are working cooperatively and effectively with their counterparts in the region in an effort to track down the heroin source so that they can be brought to justice,” said Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, whose agents arrested Newby.
Her office also is involved in the arrest Tuesday of a Zelienople woman accused of selling a heroin-fentanyl mix responsible for three near-fatal overdoses.
On Thursday, agents with the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, Allegheny County Drug Task Force, state police and the Clairton, Jefferson Hills and North Versailles police departments raided a house in the 600 block of 3rd Street in Clairton.
Undercover officers previously made two controlled buys from Newby. Investigators confiscated more than $8,500 in cash and 2,425 bags of heroin stamped “Sky High,” the attorney general’s office said.
Investigators believe the “Sky High” stamp could contain heroin and fentanyl, a narcotic painkiller that can be 100 times stronger than morphine. It’s typically prescribed to treat cancer patients and other chronic pain sufferers. They suspect dealers might be “re-branding” their illegal products under different street names because of increased publicity surrounding “Theraflu” and “Bud Ice,” two stamps that the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s forensic laboratory found to contain heroin and fentanyl.
Allegheny County officials on Thursday confirmed 14 of the 15 initial overdose deaths they have investigated so far this week contained heroin and fentanyl, Chief County Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams said.
“Now I think I have two more,” Williams said.
Toxicology tests are being conducted on those two deaths at the county’s Strip District lab, he said.
“It is my highest priority to find and hold accountable those involved in the distribution this deadly drug mixture,” Kane said.
Anyone with information about heroin distribution is asked to call Kane’s office at 800-442-8006.