Synthetic opioid contamination is “new public danger,” says DEA agent

South Ridge Apartments cleared of contamination risk following "Pink" bust, says Homeland Security

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – 7 News talked exclusively with a DEA Taskforce Officer at the heart of last week’s “Pink” drug bust in Greenville. He’s warning the Upstate about the potentially lethal contamination risk of these synthetic opioids in what he’s calling a “new public danger.”

“It’s very real they could test positive for an opiate overdose and that they didn’t even know they were coming in contact with,” said the officer.

This officer is not being identified due to the nature of his job, but he’s exposing the dangers of synthetic opioid contamination that the average person probably wouldn’t think about.

“A normal person may come in contact with it and go down and, if it was a fatal incident, how would it be determined that it was secondary contamination,” he questioned.

He said it’s a real concern for people living in apartments, hotels, motels, and rental properties where these drugs are improperly stored.

“With these particular synthetics, we have to wear even more advanced protective equipment because it is so dangerous,” he said. “Just skin contact alone can be fatal, even to law enforcement under ideal circumstances.”

Last week, 7 News showed you the hazmat crews working the “pink” bust at South Ridge Apartments on South Church Street in Greenville. Portland Police shared pictures of the drugs and parcels pulled from the apartment of suspects Theodore Khleborod and Ana Barrero.

“Homeland Security is involved, the DEA is involved. Everyone is involved and we haven’t heard anything,” said apartment resident, Maddy Craft. “We got an email, yesterday, saying some packages were stolen, they might or might not be hazardous material. It’s just kind of a bummer that it’s the only thing we’ve heard.”

That email from property management referenced an urgent request from the lead agency, Homeland Security Investigations.

It read:

Dear Resident:

Yesterday, packages were delivered to the hallway outside of a Unit, and are now missing. While the contents of the packages are unknown, in an abundance of caution, the Department of Homeland Security has asked us to inform you that the packages could, possibly, contain a substance harmful to someone who comes in direct contact with it. If you have the packages in your possession, please do not open them or do anything that could affect their integrity.

We want to reassure you, however, that based on the information we have, there is no reason to believe that the packages generally pose a risk to our residents, other than, perhaps, to someone that comes in direct contact with the contents, if the packages do in fact contain a harmful substance.

If you have any information regarding the missing packages please contact the authorities or contact management for further instruction.

If you have any additional questions or concerns please call the office at 864-908-3950, or send an email to Southridge.pm@kettler.com.

Sincerely,

South Ridge Apartments

7 News checked with his about any potential health risks left at these apartments. HSI told 7 News that the hazmat crews were brought in last week out of an abundance of caution, but, fortunately, no present health dangers exist.

Still, these agencies are warning that these drugs do have the potential to contaminate, in other cases, and even be deadly.

“This is something that will be a new public danger that we will have to deal with,” said the DEA Taskforce Officer. “It’s going to take a lot of work on our part to combat this.”

The US Attorney’s Office confirmed that an investigation into those missing parcels was underway, but they couldn’t speak to specifics about them. They said public safety is their number one concern.

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