Man pleads guilty to dealing heroin that led to 27 overdoses

Bruce Griggs of Akron, Ohio was charged with distributing heroin mixed with fentanyl and...
Bruce Griggs of Akron, Ohio was charged with distributing heroin mixed with fentanyl and carfentanyl. (Photo courtesy: WSAZ)(WHSV)
Published: Nov. 22, 2016 at 11:57 AM EST
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UPDATE (Jan. 10, 2017):

An Ohio man entered a guilty plea in federal court Monday to distributing heroin connected to 27 overdoses in a five-hour span in Huntington.

Bruce Griggs of Akron, Ohio was charged with distributing heroin mixed with fentanyl and carfentanyl.

When asked what he did to make him guilty of this crime, Griggs told the Judge "I distributed heroin in Marcum Terrace".

Prosecutors say Griggs sold about 13 grams of the cut heroin in 1/2 gram measurements.

Fentanyl is used to treat severe pain and is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Carfentanyl is said to be 100 to 1,000 times stronger than fentanyl.

Twenty-seven people overdosed last August, resulting in two deaths.

Griggs now faces up to 20 years in prison and could face up to a $1 million fine. Sentencing is set at 1:30 p.m. April 10.

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ORIGINAL STORY (11:57 a.m., Nov. 22, 2016):

Federal prosecutors have accused an Ohio man of distributing an elephant sedative to people, which they say resulted in about two dozen overdoses in a West Virginia city.

Local news organizations report that federal prosecutors on Monday charged 22-year-old Bruce Lamar Griggs with distributing carfentanil and fentanyl.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carfentanil is an elephant sedative that is 100 times more potent than fentanyl. Fentanyl is an opioid used as part of anesthesia to help prevent pain.

In September, the DEA issued a public warning about the health and safety risks of carfentanil after overdose cases began popping up in Ohio and elsewhere. As America’s opioid problem worsens, authorities have had trouble managing the drug in the community at large, which is readily available online for sale by Chinese manufacturers.

“DEA, local law enforcement and first responders have recently seen the presence of carfentanil, which has been linked to a significant number of overdose deaths in various parts of the country,” the DEA’s release stated. “Improper handling of carfentanil, as well as fentanyl and other fentanyl-related compounds, has deadly consequences.”

On Aug. 26, Griggs was charged with heroin distribution in connection with 27 overdoses that resulted in two deaths on Aug. 15 in Huntington, West Virginia.

Prosecutors also filed a motion for a guilty plea hearing on Monday. The date for the hearing has yet to be released.

WHSV has tracked the rise of carfentanil and fentanyl along with the opioid epidemic now declared a Public Health Emergency in Virginia. You can find a variety of related coverage in the Related Stories section of this article.