Elephant tranquilizer now in Chester County

The Chester County District Attorney’s Office and Chester County Coroner’s Office announced that the presence of carfentanil, a synthetic narcotic used to tranquilize elephants, has been confirmed in a Chester County overdose death.  As a result of that overdose death, a Phoenixville man has been arrested by the Phoenixville Borough Police Department for Drug Delivery Resulting in Death and related charges.

Damon Eskridge

According to Chester County Coroner Dr. Gordon Eck, “Carfentanil is an extremely potent synthetic opioid that is often disguised as heroin or mixed with heroin. Carfentanil is incredibly dangerous because it is 10,000 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than fentanyl. Because of the drug’s potency and its ability to be absorbed through the skin, only properly trained and equipped professionals should handle any substance suspected to contain carfentanil.  If you suspect that you have been exposed to carfentanil, seek immediate medical attention.”

Phoenixville Police Chief Tom Sjostrom stated, “This was great work by our officers who were able to follow through and make the arrest.  We will continue to work with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office in an effort to combat this new threat to our community and first responders.  Our officers have to take extra precautions knowing that any contact with heroin might also mean contact with carfentanil, which could have deadly consequences.”

District Attorney Tom Hogan said, “Drug traffickers and drug users are engaged in a vicious cycle.  The addicts, with their bodies and brains desensitized by repeated drug use, need stronger and stronger drugs to keep up their high. The drug dealers are only too happy to sell the addicts stronger drugs, like carfentanil, regardless of the risks.  The end result is more money for the dealers and more dead bodies on the streets.”

The defendant is 20-year-old Damon Alfred Eskridge of Railroad Street, Phoenixville.

According to the criminal complaint, Phoenixville police, on July 4, were dispatched for a possible heroin overdose to a home on Second Avenue.  Upon arrival, investigators found a 34 year-old male unresponsive.

During a search of the deceased’s bedroom, investigators found numerous empty heroin bags, some still containing suspected heroin. There was a used hypodermic needle, commonly used to “shoot up” heroin, found next to the dead body.

Further investigation led to Eskridge who, on July 5, was charged with possession with the intent to deliver drugs, criminal use of a communication facility, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity and related charges.  The defendant posted bail and was released.

On July 18, based on the toxicology findings, the Phoenixville Police issued a second criminal complaint for the defendant charging him additionally with drug delivery resulting in death. Judge Ted Michaels set bail at $1,000,000 cash and the defendant was remanded to Chester County Prison.

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