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8 officers treated after exposure to drug fumes in Queens, NYPD says

Members of the NYPD Crime Scene Unit arrive

Members of the NYPD Crime Scene Unit arrive to collect evidence in a building at 63-84 Saunders St. in Queens, where several officers became ill after making an arrest there on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Eight NYPD officers were treated Friday after they became ill during an incident at a suspected heroin location in Queens, officials said.

The cops — seven regular patrol officers and one sergeant — said they became sick in the presence of what a police spokesman said was a noxious substance in an apartment at 63-84 Saunders St. in Rego Park, police said.

Police had originally gone to the location on a call about a possibly emotionally disturbed person, said Chief Timothy Trainor, an NYPD spokesman. Police found a 39-year-old man acting erratically, he said.

White powder suspected of being heroin was found in the apartment and investigators were doing tests to see if it contained fentanyl, an opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, Trainor said. More than $75,000 in cash was found in the apartment, he said.

The identity of the 39-year-old man wasn’t released and he hadn’t been charged, police said.

Drug dealers have been lacing heroin with fentanyl, a dangerous practice that can lead to a fatal overdose, according to narcotics investigators. As of late Friday the results of the test for fentanyl weren’t know, said another police official. Police were seeking a search warrant to do a more thorough examination of the Rego Park apartment, the second spokesman said.

Police said all of the officers were treated and released at a Northwell Health facility in Forest Hills. Law enforcement officials around the country view the presence of fentanyl in heroin as a significant problem. Not only is fentanyl believed to be the cause of a dramatic spike in drug overdose deaths but police are taking protective measures — including wearing hazmat suits — when they think the opioid might be present.

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