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D.A. To Pursue Charges In Overdose Deaths Like In 1988 China White Case

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Allegheny County Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams says the stamp bags associated with the recent overdose deaths marked 'Theraflu' and 'Bud Ice' contain a mixture of both heroin and Fentanyl.

The presence of the powder form of Fentanyl indicates an illegal production of the drug is going on somewhere.

The Allegheny County District Attorney's Office says, "If through the course of this investigation evidence is developed that any person or persons in our jurisdiction knowingly distributed this lethal heroin mixture, District Attorney [Stephen] Zappala will pursue a charge of drug delivery resulting in death."

Back in 1988, a federal investigation led to the arrest of then-48-year-old Thomas Schaefers of Aspinwall.

He's still serving a federal sentence and is not eligible for release until the year 2023.

J. Alan Johnson was the U.S. Attorney when the China White drug deaths made news then. In November of 1988, he confirmed a federal grand jury was looking into it.

Two weeks later, Schaefers' lab was discovered in his Aspinwall home.

It happened only after plenty of lab work and street work to tie the street drug to the source.

"At that point, you have to go out and start making some buys - either from small level dealers up to larger dealers until you get the place where it's being manufactured. At least that's the way we did it back in 1988," said Johnson. "Three Methylfentanyl is really, really bad news as we can see. I think we had, back then, if my memory serves me, 13 or 14 people died so we were on a treadmill to get something done. Fortunately, we were able to do it pretty quickly.

Meanwhile, the drugs that investigators found at an abandoned house in Homestead will likely play a role in the investigation.

Police Seize 30 Bricks Of Heroin In Homestead (1/27/14)
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