NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Two New Haven men on Thursday admitted to selling the fentanyl-laced cocaine that caused 17 overdoses in a single day in June, including three deaths, according to the U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly.
Frank Pina, 57, and Steven Whaley, 48, sold the victims cocaine that later was found to have been laced with fentanyl, a powerful opioid that is at least 50 times more powerful than heroin, Daly said.
New Haven authorities dealt with the rash of overdoses on June 23, according to Daly, who said that New Haven police investigators and agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed that the overdose victims all believed they were taking cocaine and that the drug was laced with the opioid.
Authorities eventually found that Pina had worked directly and through a number of middlemen to supply many of the overdose victims with the drug, according to Daly, who said Whaley – an associate of Pina – was among the middlemen.
Four days after the wide-scale rash of overdoses, Pina and Whaley were arrested while in possession of cocaine packaged for sale, according to Daly.
The men each pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of controlled substances, according to Daly, who said that both men face up to 20 years in prison.
Pina is to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea on Oct. 31. Shea is to sentence Whaley on Nov. 1.
Daly said the investigation remains ongoing.
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