COLLEGE POINT — There were nearly four times as many heroin overdoses as homicides in 2016, NYPD officials said Monday — an epidemic they blamed on fentanyl-laced drugs.
There were about 1,200 overdoses last year, compared to 335 murders, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at an unrelated press conference on Monday. Boyce added that the epidemic started after heroin began being laced with fentanyl, a hazardous substance that makes the drug 20 to 25 times more potent, according to police.
“We're very concerned about it. It is the fentanyl issue — being laced with the heroin that's creating an almost 60 percent purity,” Boyce said at the police academy in Queens.
“A couple of years ago it was 10 percent. So it's creating a big problem as far as people using it, even those who have been addicts for quite some time.”
The Bronx has seen the biggest increase in overdoses, Boyce added, followed by areas of northern Queens, Staten Island and south Brooklyn.
Staten Island had 104 heroin-related deaths last year, the highest in recorded history.
Health workers have also been holding trainings on how to administer naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an overdose.
New Yorkers between the ages of 45 to 54 had the highest rate of overdose death, according to Department of Health statistics, and young city residents between 15 and 34 had the biggest jump in usage.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said each borough has a major case team assigned to the drug problem. They've already seized 134 kilos of heroin and kilos of fentanyl, he said.
“I think it's of increasing concern for us, and keep in mind we attack this on many different levels,” O’Neill said. "It's of particular concern for all of us."