The deaths of two Attica Correctional Facility inmates has led to the indictment of a fellow inmate and a his wife, a Buffalo woman.
U.S. Attorney William Hochul says Elizabeth Martinez, 33, smuggled heroin into Attica for her husband, 28-year-old Andres Martinez. The husband allegedly distributed the drugs to his two fellow inmates who died of an overdose the same night.
Hochul says addictions to heroin or other substances is affecting every segment of society.
"Whether urban or suburban, whether in the relatively open spaces of our rural communities or the very strict confines of a prison cell, addictions simply make no distinction when it comes to who will be affected," Hochul said at a news conference late Wednesday morning.
Michele Spahn, Resident Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency's Buffalo office, says the DEA and local law enforcement have "dedicated all available resources to combating this public health crisis."
Spahn says in recent months there hass been an outbreak of fatal overdoses involving fentanyl and heroin. She says users sometimes have no idea what they are injecting.
"Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, which is the main ingredient in heroin. So when they believe that they're injected what they could normally ingest to get a high without overdosing, they're not able to do that," Spahn said.
If convicted, the Martinezs face a maximum 20 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine.
According the Drug Enforcement Agency, heroin overdose rates have increased 45 percent nationwide. Last year in Erie County alone, 100 deaths were linked to overdose.