EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WYTV) – East Liverpool police were already familiar with the men arrested Friday, shortly before an officer overdosed on residue left over from drugs found in their car.
Patrolman Chris Green brushed suspected fentanyl off of his shirt after a traffic stop Friday night and passed out when the drug seeped into his skin and caused him to overdose.
It took four rounds of the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone to revive him.
“It was just a freak accident that he accidentally bumped up against something while he was searching the vehicle and for him to drop out like that, it’s shocking,” Capt. Patrick Wright said.
Both of the men Green pulled over were arrested and arraigned Monday morning. The bond for Justin Buckle, 25, and Cortez Collins, 24, was set at $100,000 each. They are charged with tampering with evidence.
The situation started when an off-duty drug task force officer recognized Buckle, of East Liverpool, driving a “familiar” car. The officer said he was aware of extensive drug activity involving Buckle, so he notified the police captain on duty.
Buckle and Collins are two familiar names to East Liverpool police.
“We have a group of what we believe to be heartless felons. A street gang from Cleveland down here, trafficking the fentanyl and carfentanil,” Wright said.
The off-duty officer thinks that’s what the pair was doing when he spotted them Friday night and alerted the department. He told the officers that Buckle’s movement followed a drug transaction pattern he’s seen before.
“They find what we call a ‘trap house.’ They find somebody who’s addicted to heroin or what not, they set up shop in their house, and they’ll sell out of there until they sell out,” Wright said. “They make runs back and forth or until we put so much pressure on them that they have to move somewhere else.”
Police said when they pulled the men over, the pair was “moving wildly about inside the car.” Upon searching, officers found a white substance all over the car — which they believe is fentanyl or carfentanil.
Wright said those drugs mainly come to East Liverpool from the Cleveland area and buyers don’t usually realize what it is.
“They all think they’re getting heroin and the next thing you know, they take what they normally take of heroin and it’s carfentanil. And if there ain’t nobody there, they’re dead.”
Patrolman Green is resting Monday, though he’s still feeling the effects.
Police said neither Buckle nor Cortez overdosed. This could be because the drug never touched their skin, but officers said it’s likely the men have a much higher tolerance for the drug than the officer.