MONROE COUNTY-- Federal drug investigators are in Pennsylvania,trying to help state and local law enforcement track down heroin that contains fentanyl, a drug often used during surgery, much more powerful than morphine.
Officials said the combination of the two drugs has led to more than 20 deaths in the Keystone State in the past few weeks.
"Heroin is extremely dangerous to begin with, but heroin users typically know their habit and they understand how much heroin is safe, quote, unquote to use for themselves but when you start mixing it with other drugs like fentanyl, which is an extremely powerful drug in and of itself, it's something that's new and foreign," said Lt. Kevin Transue of Stroud Area Regional Police.
Lt. Transue said drugs are a serious problem in the Poconos and heroin is 'huge.'
While it has not been located yet, Lt. Transue believes the tainted heroin is already in the area.
"Now we have someone out there knowingly putting a drug into this heroin that is causing death so for us it's affecting our community even more so than what heroin does by itself. "
Some people in the Poconos were surprised to learn of the tainted drugs; others were not.
"I've heard stories of heroin, the tainted stuff, I've never heard of that so that's a little weird," said East Stroudsburg student Trevor Steinfeldt.
"Any drug dealer is going to be trying to get their product even cheaper and get more quantity out there. That's the idea of it I guess. Make more money," said fellow student Anthony Honorowski.
Police throughout the state including those in the Poconos are keeping an eye out for the tainted heroin, looking for products stamped with certain names.
They are reporting that information to the state attorney general and federal officials.
Officials at several drug treatment facilities told Newswatch 16 they are doing the same.