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Zachary Pottle ❘
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Last weekend, a night in Pittsburgh took a lethal turn. On September 22, in the early hours of the morning, a team of paramedics went to the Southside Works City Club Apartments to investigate a call about an unconscious man in an elevator. By the time they found Rubio Clemente Martinez in the elevator, he had already died.
When the paramedics inspected the apartment where Martinez had been earlier that night, they found the bodies of two more men, Joel Pecina and Josue Serrano, as well as three other men who were barely alive. The paramedics also found another man in critical condition on a street outside of the apartment. All seven men had overdosed on fentanyl. Fortunately, the four survivors are recovering at a hospital.
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According to a police report, all seven overdose victims had been together at a club on the night of September 21, and then went to the apartment as a group for a party. Another partygoer, Peter Rene Sanchez Montalvo, offered everyone some white powder that he claimed was cocaine. In reality, the powder contained fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid, and people immediately started to overdose. Sanchez Montalvo fled the apartment.
On September 23, the police arrested Sanchez Montalvo in Pittsburgh. At the time of his arrest, he had equipment for packaging heroin and a large stash of money, possibly profits from selling drugs. Since Sanchez Montalvo is a resident of California and several of the victims come from states other than Pennsylvania, the FBI is investigating the case. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors have charged Sanchez Montalvo with the felony of possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute. He faces a potential life sentence in prison and a $1 million fine.
The first responders noticed that all seven victims were wearing orange wristbands. While this would normally suggest that the victims used drugs together at a concert or similar event, the Pittsburgh Police Department stated that this was an isolated incident, “not a case of a tainted drug being passed around or distributed in large volume at a large venue which could have affected even more people.” However, the police warned the residents of Pittsburgh that there may be “a tainted, potentially deadly batch of drugs in the community.”
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Drug traffickers often adulterate illegal drugs with fentanyl to create more addictive products at a cheaper price. Fentanyl is far less expensive than cocaine, which is why drug traffickers are increasingly mixing fentanyl into cocaine or mixing fentanyl into white powder and calling it cocaine. In the wake of this tragic event, the Pittsburgh Police Department has advised everyone to stay away from cocaine and all illegal substances, since no one can be sure what’s in them until it’s too late.
Nathan Yerby is a writer and researcher. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.