RICHMOND — Wayne County has set a pace through 2017's first four months to record more than 100 drug-related deaths this year.
In Coroner Ron Stevens' absence Thursday, Wayne County Commissioner Mary Anne Butters told the Heroin Is Here group meeting at Reid Health that 33 confirmed drug-related deaths were recorded through April. With cases still pending, an unthinkable 100 deaths becomes possible with eight months remaining.
The county recorded 56 drug-related deaths during 2016, which itself was a sharp rise from previous years. The death toll has increased rapidly from 16 drug-related deaths during 2012.
Partially fueling the sharp increase is an infusion of fentanyl and carfentanil, two drugs more potent — and more deadly — than heroin. Butters said one of the confirmed deaths this year was solely due to carfentanil, which is a large-animal tranquilizer that can also be dangerous for anyone breathing in a small amount or absorbing a small amount through the skin.
Richmond Police Department Lt. Curt Leverton, a supervisor in the detectives division, has said most drugs in the city are now laced with fentanyl or carfentanil.