A close grouping of apparent heroin overdose deaths has prompted the Sheriff’s Office to issue a warning that there may be some unusually pure heroin on the market. Children have been taken into protective custody due to circumstances found at the home of one of the decedents.
On June 4, a 27-year-old man was found dead in his home in Lompoc, and a 32-year-old man was found dead in a Solvang hotel room. Both deaths appeared associated with heroin, based on evidence at the scenes.
The third death occurred on June 7 and involved a 31-year-old Solvang woman. A witness called in a report that a woman was running around a property on the 3100 block of Highway 246 before she fell to the ground. Paramedics and deputies found her in a field near the home, apparently dead of a narcotics overdose. The deputies searched out her husband and found him tripping on apparent hallucinogens. Two children, ages 4 and 5, were with him in the home, and narcotics and drug paraphernalia were found where the children could reach them. The man, 46, was booked on child endangerment and being under the influence of a controlled substance, and the children were placed with Child Welfare Services.
According to the county’s Drug Prevention Division, the number of accidental overdose deaths now exceeds automobile accident deaths in Santa Barbara County, and prescription pain killer and heroin abuse has grown by 30 percent in the past five years. Of the people who enroll in the agency’s drug treatment programs, more than 25 percent are trying to get off heroin or prescription pain killers like Vicodin, Percodan, Percoset, Oxycontin, and Opana. Drug Prevention, which is part of Public Health’s Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health division, also warns that most accidental overdoses result from combinations of alcohol and opioids or sedatives like Xanax and Klonopin. The agency can be reached at (888) 868-1649.
The Sheriff’s Office iterated that investigators have yet to confirm that high-quality heroin is responsible for the recent deaths. But it requests that anyone with knowledge of the heroin distribution contact the Narcotics Investigation Unit at (805) 681-4175 to help prevent further injury or death. Heroin comes as black tar, brown powder, or a near-white powder, and can be injected or smoked, but is also taken by other means.