‘Ace of Spades’ heroin in Hoffman apartment could be part of deadly batch

Fentanyl-laced heroin has been blamed for multiple deaths in recent months.  Credit: Getty Images
Fentanyl-laced heroin has been blamed for multiple deaths in recent months.
Credit: Getty Images

In the same apartment where actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman was found dead Sunday from an apparent overdose, with a needle still in his arm, detectives discovered envelopes of heroin branded “Ace of Spades.”

That batch of heroin could be one in a string that has claimed lives across the country in recent months. As the drug changes hands, dealers often use filler substances to increase the weight of the product, stretch the supply and up their profit. From there, another stronger opiate is often added to counter the dilution and increase the potency of the batch. In the case of “Ace of Spades,” as well as “Income Tax,” “Theraflu” and “Bud Ice,” that extra ingredient can be fentanyl — a pain medication 100 times stronger than morphine.

Fentanyl is a drug first developed for palliative care for patients dying of cancer. It is a highly sophisticated, highly addictive opiate, according to Ben Levenson, founder and CEO of Origins Recovery Center. A former user of opiates himself, he now treats addicts, many of whom are dealing with the horrific results of opiate abuse.

Even if Hoffman had gotten heroin from the same dealer multiple times before his death, the strength of the batches he bought could have varied dramatically, Levenson said. Ultimately, a user has no idea what he or she is injecting or how strong it really is.

“He got a hold of something so strong that he died before he could get the needle out of his arm,” Levenson said. “That tells you how far he missed the mark on what he expected was in that syringe versus what was really in the syringe.”

That type potency can be the result when the batch is mixed at a high level within the supply chain. It is often diluted again as it trickles down to street level, Levenson said, but if it isn’t, it can carry a fatal dose.

Dealers putting additives in heroin to stretch the supply isn’t a new concept— it’s been happening for years. However, fentanyl-laced heroin has been linked to multiple deaths recently, including five overdoses in Long Island, which officials said may have been caused by the same batch that claimed 22 lives in Pennsylvania.

Making the cocktail even more dangerous is the inability to identify it. While officials have found traces of fentanyl in batches named “Ace of Spades,” branding doesn’t come with consistency in the illegal drug trade.

“It just means a particular dealer went to a head shop and bought a baggie that said ‘Ace of Spades,’” Levenson said. “It’s not a brand name — there’s no way to track this batch of heroin.”

 Follow Cassandra Garrison on Twitter: @CassieAtMetro



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…