YPSILANTI (WWJ) – Test results are pending in Washtenaw County to discover what may have led to a recent rash of heroin overdoses —  including eight in two days and two fatalities.

Michigan State Police Lt. Dave Peltomaa, who oversees the Livingston and Washtenaw County Narcotics Enforcement Team, says potentially dangerous mixing or “cutting” agents could be to blame.

“We don’t know if it’s potency; we don’t know if there’s something added; we don’t know if whoever’s cutting hasn’t cut it enough, and so there’s more pure heroin in there,” Peltomaa said.

“People who are getting it from a dealer, they don’t know what they’re getting.  Obviously it’s having some tragic results,” he said. “People feeling like they’re bulletproof are taking the chance on this stuff and they don’t know what’s in it.”

Peltomaa said people often start with prescription pain killers and then switch to heroin because it’s “much cheaper.” He said the drug is gaining social acceptance in Michigan’s suburbs as well as in rural areas.

The uptick in local cases coincides with similar heroin overdose outbreaks in New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, as well as in Canada. But whether there is a direct, said Peltomaa, remains unclear.

“Most of what we see is brought into Detroit and then makes its way out into the suburbs,” Peltomaa said. “There really is no one (origin) point at this time that we can look to.”

Tests are being done on recently confiscated heroin from within Washtenaw County in the hope of determining a cause.

MORE: Heroin: ‘An Epidemic’ In The Wealthiest Suburbs


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