LEXINGTON -- Investigators say a Cincinnati man who was arrested in connection to a spike of overdoses in Montgomery County, Kentucky, is likely not responsible for the rash of overdoses in Hamilton County last week.
Police said Robert Lee Shields knowingly distributed fentanyl, disguised as heroin in some instances, in Cincinnati, which made its way to Mount Sterling, Kentucky.
Shields, also known by the alias "Sosa," admitted to selling fentanyl when questioned by Drug Enforcement Agency officials.
Investigators began tracing a supply of what they believed to be heroin after 12 people overdosed in less than one day in Montgomery County, according to an affidavit. One of the overdoses was fatal.
Officials arrested one woman, Tracey Myers, who delivered fentanyl to many of the Montgomery County victims, the affidavit states. She admitted involvement to police and named another person, Wesley Hamm, whom police arrested on drug charges and other outstanding warrants.
Myers and Hamm both referred to the drugs being purchased as heroin; however, they said they knew that heroin is commonly mixed with fentanyl, but that they were unaware if the heroin they sold contained fentanyl.
Hamm told investigators that he made trips to Cincinnati to purchase drugs from a dealer named "Sosa." DEA officers set up a sting operation involving Hamm, Shields and an undercover cop, the affidavit said. Shields was apprehended in Cincinnati "without incident" after a pursuit on Queen City Avenue.
When DEA special agent Jared Sullivan asked Shields why he sold fentanyl marketed as heroin, Shields said "That's all that's around."
Shields will be in court in Lexington on Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Wier.
Officials in Cincinnati are searching for a potent mixture of heroin, fentanyl and/or elephant tranquilizers that led to more than 170 overdoses in five days.
"We're urging you, please don't do heroin right now," said Newtown police Chief Tom Synan, head of the Hamilton County Heroin Task Force, "If for no other reason, because we don't know what's in the stuff on the street."
Synan said the dealers know they're distributing a deadly mix and they're doing it on purpose.
"These people are intentionally putting in drugs they know can kill someone," said Synan. "The benefit for them is if the user survives it is such a a powerful high for them, they tend to come back ... If one or two people dies, they could care less. They know the supply is so big right now that if you lose some customers in their eyes there's always more in line."
But DEA officials said they don't believe Shields is behind last week's rash of overdoses in Cincinnati.