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Southold police: ‘Bad batch’ of cocaine leads to 6 deaths

A recent rash of drug-related overdoses in Southold and Shelter Island have taken place over the last eight days, with at least six of them leading to deaths, with most of them involving “a bad batch” of cocaine laced with fentanyl, according to Southold police.

A news release issued Saturday from the Town of Southold Police Department stated that the North Fork and Shelter Island had seen drug overdoses during the last week resulting in five deaths in Southold Town and one on Shelter Island.

“We normally average one overdose death a year, maybe some years with none, so to have five in our township and another on Shelter Island in the matter of a week is definitely alarming,” Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley told Newsday on Saturday.

According to Flatley, the first case took place on Aug. 5 in Cutchogue involving a 28-year-old woman who was overdosing but survived after police administered Narcan. The second overdose case took place Aug. 11 when police found a 34-year-old woman from Greenport Village dead in her bed. The same day, a 25-year-old from Southold was also found dead at his home. Police responded to another overdose case on Aug. 12 when they had to administer Narcan to a 69-year-old man from Mattituck, who survived. On Aug. 13, police responded to overdoses cases in which four people died. Those who died include a 30-year-old man from Southold, a 27-year-old man from Greenport Village, a 32-year-old man from East Marion, and a 40-year-old man from Shelter Island.

Southold Town and Shelter Island police departments are investigating the cases in conjunction with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Suffolk County Police Department.

While the investigation is ongoing, Flatley said most of the cases appear to have been caused by cocaine laced with fentanyl and police are working toward identifying who is behind the sales.

“We’re fairly confident that we have a good idea where it’s coming from,” Flatley said. “We’re working towards finding the source of the drug and towards the person that’s selling the drug, so we’re making progress on that.”

As of 11 a.m. Saturday, Flatley said no new overdose cases had been reported, which could be a sign that word is spreading in the community to avoid consuming the “bad batch” of drugs being sold locally.

Police are advising people who have recently purchased cocaine or other narcotics recently on the North Fork or Shelter Island, or know of a family member or friend that has purchased, to safely dispose of these potentially lethal products and avoid using them. Flatley said anyone who has purchased cocaine in Greenport Village, particularly within the last two weeks, should be alarmed and avoid using it.

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell told Newsday on Saturday that he had been made aware of the situation and Southold Police have taken the lead in getting the word out to residents.

“This is a tragedy that could happen in any community, and we need to recognize that we need to commit more resources to opioid addiction,” Russell said. “If you have a [addiction] problem, you need to stop because the current supply is deadly. And if you have a family member that has [addiction] problems, reach out to them and get them to stop, because their life is very much in danger.”

Jean-Paul Salamanca covers the East End. He focuses on Riverhead, Southold and Greenport on the North Fork, as well as Hampton Bays, Westhampton Beach, Flanders, Riverside and Quogue on the South Fork.

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