Police in the nation's capital began a frantic search for the source of "especially potent or spoiled" heroin that was blamed Saturday for the deaths of at least five persons and the hospitalization of 15 others.
A sixth death was being investigated in what was described as the worst outbreak of drug abuse deaths in the city since 1983. Police said the death may be linked to the same batch of drugs.
Police began getting reports of the large number of drug overdoses Friday evening, saying the reports stretched from the city's poor Anacostia section to the affluent Northwest area. Four of the deaths occurred within one hour.
Other Cities Contacted
District of Columbia investigators began contacting police in other cities and coordinating efforts with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to determine if there has been a regional distribution of the drugs.
"Initial toxicology tests have indicated the drug in question to be heroin. Additional testing must be conducted in an attempt to determine if the heroin was too strong in purity or possibly contained a contaminated or toxic substance," said Isaac Fullwood, assistant police chief.