The looming threat of fentanyl - and its ability to give heroin a potent and even deadlier kick - has hit local streets.
On Tuesday, investigators with the Jamestown Police Narcotics Investigations Unit along with the New York State Police CNET and uniformed officers of the Jamestown Police located the substance during a drug bust at a 520 Newland Ave. apartment.
Three individuals-April S. Matteson, 40, of Jamestown; Jay P. Campbell, 46, of Jamestown; and Jaime L. Condella, 33, of Frewsburg - were found inside along with drugs and drug paraphernalia, packaging and needles. Condella was found in possession of a powdery substance, packaged for individual sales, that tested positive for fentanyl.
Condella was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
All three were charged with endangering the welfare of a child after it was found that a female juvenile lived in the apartment, although she was not home.
Matteson and Campbell were arraigned and released. Condella is being held for arraignment on the possession charge.
The drug bust, which occurred at approximately 10:30 a.m., was the culmination of a several weekslong investigation into narcotics sales at the apartment, police said.
"This is our first confirmed case in the city of Jamestown where fentanyl is being sold as heroin," said Harry Snellings, police chief of the Jamestown Police Department. "The concern is the associated overdoses and deaths that you find with the taking and ingesting of fentanyl."
Indeed, fentanyl has been linked to several fatal overdoses across the country, particularly when mixed with heroin. A recent string of deaths in southwestern Pennsylvania has left many local officials concerned of its seemingly inevitable migration to Chautauqua County.
"It's not out of the realm of possibility," Joseph Gerace, Chautauqua County sheriff, said in a previous interview. "They're seeing some (cases) in Buffalo ... so if that's the case, I can make the assumption that it's going to be here. It's only a matter of time."
Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid, typically prescribed as an oral tablet or patch, and intended to manage severe pain. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, it is 100 times more potent than morphine.
Heroin mixed with fentanyl is attractive to users because of the rapid and extreme "high" that it creates. However, many users are simply unaware of the purity or dosage of fentanyl added, increasing the risk of overdosing.
Jamestown investigators believe that fentanyl is being sold as heroin locally and that most users are not aware of it.