LAWRENCE (CBS) — A mixture of cocaine and fentanyl is to blame for two deadly overdoses that prompted a hazmat response Monday morning.
Lawrence and Massachusetts State Police rushed to a Garden Street apartment just before six a.m. after a man called to say he may have ingested some sort of dangerous substance.
Police entered the apartment to find two men dead. A third, the man who called 911, was taken to Lawrence General Hospital. His condition is not yet known.
The survivor told police that he had suffered nerve damage, and had apparently been lying on his side for as much as a whole day.
Police found a substance inside the apartment that they said could have been the synthetic opioid carfentanil–an elephant tranquilizer ten thousand times more potent than morphine. After testing, it was determined to be a mixture of cocaine and fentanyl.
Carfentanil can be absorbed through the skin, and it’s possible to overdose by simply touching it–so first responders at the scene wore hazmat gear.
Some of the hazmat crews were having their uniforms washed down after exiting the house.
The State Police bomb squad also responded, as authorities weren’t sure if there were unstable drug manufacturing materials in the apartment.
One neighbor told WBZ-TV’s David Robichaud this isn’t normal in the area.
“It’s something that you don’t see every single day in here,” he said. “It’s sad. Seeing my people, especially Dominicans, my people…it’s sad. Scary.”
State Police said last month that they suspected carfentanil had arrived in Massachusetts, and confirmed that their crime laboratory found four narcotics samples that tested positively for carfentanil recently. They haven’t yet confirmed any carfentanil deaths in Massachusetts.
As Robichaud reported from the scene, police took a man into custody after a brief foot chase. That arrest was not related to the overdoses.
The overdose victims have not been identified. State Police detectives with the Essex DA’s office are investigating their deaths.