Berks DA issues public health alert after rash of overdoses

Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams in his office in Reading, Pennsylvania. (Matt Smith for Keystone Crossroads)

Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams in his office in Reading, Pennsylvania. (Matt Smith for Keystone Crossroads)

A midstate district attorney’s office is issuing a public health alert after a recent rash of drug overdoses.

Twelve people overdosed in Berks County over the weekend. Three of them died.

“Never have we had a concentration of so many overdoses so quickly in time,” said District Attorney John Adams, adding he’s also heard of two recent overdose deaths in Lebanon County.

Adams is asking for the public’s help in finding the dealers who provided the drugs. Anyone with information is asked to call the DA’s office, their local police, or Crime Alert Berks at 877-373-9913. Tips can be texted to 84741.

As of Monday afternoon, he said police had one suspect in custody.

“I believe that a lot of these overdoses will come back to the same source,” Adams said

Five people overdosed at once outside a West Reading bar after allegedly taking cocaine. The other overdoses took place in the city of Reading and Exeter and Rockland townships.

Adams said investigators are waiting for test results, but he believes the drug had been cut with a powerful opioid, such as fentanyl.

Pennsylvania medical examiners reported 4,491 drug-related overdose deaths in 2018. Fentanyl was found in about 70 percent of cases.

The Berks County coroner has reported 68 overdose deaths so far this year.

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