SALEM — Police have charged a Salem resident who was with two people who overdosed on potentially tainted narcotics last week.
Just before 10:30 a.m. yesterday, police took Jeffrey Pickett, 22, into custody at his Ticklefancy Lane home on a warrant for drug charges. Pickett faces a felony charge for possession of heroin and a misdemeanor charge for possession of marijuana.
On Jan. 27, police were called for a report of two unconscious people in a car at 12 Ticklefancy Lane. Pickett was with the two. Police believe the three had bought heroin, possibly in Lawrence, then snorted it on the way to Salem.
A 20-year-old Haverhill woman remains hospitalized in critical condition at a Boston hospital, according to Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten. The third person involved, a 21-year-old Salem man, was hospitalized here, then released.
Police found heroin, marijuana and drug paraphernalia in Pickett’s car, Patten said.
“During the investigation, Mr. Pickett has refused to cooperate with respect to where they procured what we believe is tainted heroin,” Patten said yesterday. “It certainly makes the investigation more difficult when we have noncooperative people who have information and don’t want to cooperate.”
Reports of heroin possibly tainted with fentanyl, a powerful opiate, have been coming in from around the region — and far beyond. Vermont state health officials yesterday reported three deaths there last month were the result of fentanyl overdoses.
Last month in Portsmouth, three people overdosed on heroin and one man died. Police there issued a warning to heroin users about highly potent or tainted heroin.
In Salisbury, Mass., Wednesday, police reported two heroin overdoses, possibly tainted or laced with fentanyl.
Less than 24 hours after Salem police and paramedics responded to Ticklefancy Lane, they were called to a third overdose, this one on Bluff Street. The 21-year-old man was revived. Patten said he was an acquaintance of the people found on Ticklefancy Lane.
The number of overdoses in Salem has been climbing steadily, he said. There were 18 in 2011, 19 in 2012 and 25 last year.
“It’s pretty clear it’s all throughout the region, not just in Salem, the Merrimack Valley and the seacoast,” Patten said yesterday. “It’s an important investigation; it’s important to get this stuff off the street.”
Several Salem detectives are part of the Cross-Border Initiative, a two-state drug task force, he said.
Salem officers were part of a regional police meeting last week in Andover, where departments exchanged information, compared investigations and discussed strategy, Patten said.
“We have to make a collaborative effort before more people lose their lives,” he said.
Pickett was booked yesterday and later released on $1,000 personal recognizance, pending his arraignment in 10th Circuit Court in Salem.