Lauretti: Education is key in city's battle against drugs

Two deaths and two overdoses in which victims survived have area law enforcement tracking the trafficking of heroin in the area.

Multiple dealers have already been arrested.

Shelton Police responded to two separate “medical emergencies” on Tuesday, Feb. 16, which were suspected to be heroin related. Both victims survived.

On Feb. 17 Derby Police investigated two sudden deaths. Both were also suspected to be heroin overdoses.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Drug Enforcement Administration New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad, and detectives from the Derby, Shelton, Ansonia and Monroe police departments quickly formed a joint task force trace the source of the heroin.

Investigators said they traced heroin from one of the Derby fatalities and both Shelton overdoses back to the same drug dealer. Shelton Police Det. Richard Bango said consistent markings were found on the drug’s packaging in each of the overdoses. As of Wednesday morning Feb. 24, the details of those markings were not made public.

The dealer was identified as Bradley Commerford, 20, of Derby. On Feb. 18 he was arrested on outstanding local warrants for violating his probation. The violations weren’t made available as of Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Commerford now faces a “federal drug charge stemming from the alleged sale and delivery of heroin,” according to a press release sent out by Derby Police.

This drug investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Derby Police Department at (203) 735-7811 or the DEA TDS at 203-497-5200. All calls may remain confidential.

Commerford is just one of multiple heroin-related arrests in Shelton during February alone. Police also arrested Joshua Roman, 20, for distribution of “folds” of heroin earlier this month.

Bango said these arrests are a step in the right direction, but his team is just scratching the surface with the arrest of “street dealers.”

“Getting any dealer off the street is a good thing for us and the city, but we are still actively looking for the bigger suppliers,” said Bango.

One of the largest problems, he said, is the overall availability of heroin.

‘What the usual progression is, someone gets hooked on prescription drugs, most commonly oxycodone, and when they become addicted they can’t afford it anymore,” Bango said. “It’s much cheaper for them to shoot heroin. Unfortunately, along with it being cheaper, the users run the risk of getting heroin that are ‘cut’ with fentanyl and other things that shouldn’t be in there.”

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opiate analgesic similar to but more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website.  Fentanyl is used to “amplify the potency of the heroin,” according to Bango.

Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti said proper education on these drugs could save lives.

“What’s really surprising to me is the number of young people losing their lives to this drug. They don’t realize what they’re doing to themselves,” Lauretti said. “The solution will rely heavily on the public’s education. The more information we share with our kids, the better off everybody is going to be. We expect school to solve all of society's’ ills, but the parents are partially responsible.”

Lauretti encouraged the public to educate themselves on the very real drug issue communities across the country are battling. There will be a community discussion on Connecticut’s opioid addiction crisis on March 3 in the R.D. Scinto Auditorium at 1 Corporate Drive in Shelton. The forum is scheduled to run from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. and is open to the public.