Conn. Cops on Raid Sickened by Airborne Heroin, Fentanyl | NBC New York
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Conn. Cops on Raid Sickened by Airborne Heroin, Fentanyl

Officers on the raid near a high school felt light-headed and began vomiting, but will return to duty

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    A Hartford SWAT team bust put 11 officers in the hospital Tuesday after they were exposed to heroin and fentanyl powder believed to be sent airborne by flash grenade blasts. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016)

    Eleven members of the Hartford Police Department who were sent to the hospital after being exposed to heroin and fentanyl during a narcotics bust at a house across from Hartford High School Tuesday were back at work on Wednesday, authorities said.

    Deputy Chief Brian Foley said the SWAT team executed a search warrant at an apartment on Forest Street in the Asylum Hill neighborhood around 7:30 p.m. and set off flash grenades, which might have sent the powder form of the drug into the air.

    "They're basically loud explosions that completely stun anyone in the apartment. Those went off. Unfortunately, when those when off it's believed that aerosolized some of the powders on the table," Foley said. "That powder went airborne and some of the SWAT team members were breathing it in while trying to secure three suspects," Foley said.

    Officers soon started feeling light-headed and nauseated, developed sore throats and headaches and began vomiting. All the officers were transported to St. Francis Hospital, where they were treated and then released and returned to duty on Wednesday morning.

    During the operation, police seized 50,000 bags of heroin, two handguns and 350 grams of raw heroin and arrested three people, Foley said.

    Police said they raided the house just in time to keep the drugs off the streets.

    "Within hours, it would have been out and distributed to the dealers in the streets, so we're glad we got it," Foley said.

    The investigation is ongoing.

    "It's rare that we do see that many bags taken on a hit, but I can tell you we don't think it will stop anything. And now you worry about the violence that will come after because someone lost 50,000 bags of heroin," Foley said.

    Ronald Perez, 28, Byron Rivera, 26, and Marcus Tyson, 30, all of Hartford, were taken into custody and arrested on federal charges, including possession with intent to distribute and distribution of more than one kilogram of heroin.

    Parents were in shock after learning about all the drugs at a home so close to the school and some said they are nervous about drugs in the area. One mom said she is thinking about finding a new school for her daughter. 

    Neighbors were surprised as well.

    "I'm shocked. I wouldn't think people would do those things close to school," Maizie Balfour, of Hartford, said.

    Security staff from Hartford High School have been in touch with police.