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NYPD: Man arrested after cops sickened at Rego Park home

Members of the NYPD Crime Scene Unit carry evidence

Members of the NYPD Crime Scene Unit carry evidence from the building on Saunders Street in Rego Park, Queens, where several cops fell ill Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

The occupant of a Queens home where a white powder thought to be heroin in the air sickened eight NYPD cops has been arrested, a police spokeswoman said Saturday.

Onix Torrellas, 39, was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, reckless endangerment and other crimes, according to the NYPD spokeswoman, Det. Annette Shelton.

The eight officers were treated Friday after they became ill during an incident at the home, a suspected heroin location.

The cops — seven patrol officers and one sergeant — are said to have gotten sick in the presence of what a police spokesman said was a noxious substance in the apartment, at 63-84 Saunders St. in Rego Park.

Police had originally gone to the location on a call about a possibly emotionally disturbed person, said Chief Timothy Trainor, an NYPD spokesman. The officers found a man whom they later identified as Torrellas acting erratically, he said.

White powder suspected of being heroin was found in the apartment and investigators were doing tests to see whether it contained fentanyl, an opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, Trainor said. More than $75,000 in cash was found in the apartment, he said.

Drug dealers have been lacing heroin with fentanyl, a dangerous practice that can lead to a fatal overdose.

Police said all of the officers were treated and released at a Northwell Health facility in Forest Hills.

Not only is fentanyl believed to be the cause of a dramatic spike in drug overdose deaths, but police are taking protective measures — including wearing hazmat suits — when they think the opioid might be present.


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