There has been an increase in drug overdoses in northern Westchester and Putnam counties, and while many are not fatal, several recent deaths have highlighted the problem, police officials said.
"[Heroin] is common," said Patrick Bosley, New York State Police senior investigator at the Somers barracks. "It's all over. It has become a problem."
State troopers in Somers are investigating a handful of deaths that occurred in early December 2012, and which they believe are due to suspected heroin overdoses. Police said they found needles at the scene. The exact cause of the deaths will not be available until toxicology results, which take six to eight weeks, are done.
The three recent incidents occurred in Somers last month, resulting in two deaths.
A 27-year-old Mahopac man was found in a parking lot next to his car on Dec. 4. He was taken to the Putnam Hospital Center where he was pronounced dead.
A 27-year-old Mahopac man was found to have overdosed in a gas station bathroom in Somers on Dec. 6. He was also taken to the Putnam Hospital Center and survived.
A 28-year-old Somers man who had overdosed at his home was found on Dec. 11 by family. He was also taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.
Police said it was not clear if the three men knew each other. Bosley said people buy the drugs from people they don't know, with no knowledge about the drug's potency or if it has been tempered with.
"It's risky," he said. "It's extremely dangerous."
Sean Morgan, state police investigator at the Cortlandt barracks, said he investigated a similar incident in November when a Cortlandt woman, 21, was found dead in her home on Nov. 18.
Police don't suspect it was a heroin overdose, but rather a prescription drug overdose. Toxicology reports are not available yet.
Carmel Police Chief Mike Johnson said his department has investigated four deaths linked to drug overdoses—three heroin, and one likely morphine mixed with another prescription drug—since May. The individuals who reportedly used heroin were males in their 20s who were found dead in their respective homes. The most recent was Nov. 29. Johnson does not believe the three were part of the same social circle. The fourth individual was a 50-year-old male.
On Dec. 19, 2012, a four-month investigation into heroin distribution in the northern towns of Westchester County led to raids in Somers and Yorktown, according to state police. Police arrested Peter Muir, 25, Alora Muir, 19, and Cody Vonelm, 19, all from Somers, and Bret Oleet, 25, of Yorktown.
In November 2012, police also arrested a Yorktown woman and a Mt. Kisco man for heroin possession.
In Yorktown, two young adults died of a heroin overdose on March 26, 2011. As a result of a multi-agency investigation, 21 Bronx residents were arrested on charges that they are part of a heroin ring that supplied drugs to them.
Ashley Tarr contributed to this report.