Yesterday, a Hennepin County judge found drug dealer Beverly Burrell guilty of third-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Max Tillitt who died of a heroin overdose on Sept. 25, 2015 in Eden Prairie. Two months ago Burrell was found guilty of third-degree murder in the 2016 death of Luke Ronnei of Chanhassen. She has also been charged in the overdose deaths of three other men, including a man who died in a car in the Eden Prairie Costco parking lot.
Investigators with the EPPD and the Southwest Hennepin County Drug Task Force (SWHDTF) have been aggressively pursuing criminal charges against drug dealers who provide fatal doses of heroin to their customers. Since 2011, 19 people in Eden Prairie have overdosed and 10 of them have died. More than half of these cases occurred in 2016 and 2017.
The EPPD has been working hard to combat the heroin epidemic, including providing education in 5th-grade CounterAct classes and EPHS health classes. We also provide free home medication disposal bags to residents so they can remove and safely discard unused medications from their homes. We have distributed approximately 3,000 bags since the program started in 2014.
In 2015 we began training all officers how to administer naloxone, a medication given through the nose that reverses the effects of a heroin overdose. In five of the Eden Prairie overdoses mentioned above, naloxone was used to save the victims.
Investigators in Eden Prairie and around the country are beginning to notice traces of fentanyl and carfentanil in heroin, both of which are extremely deadly. Fentanyl is 100-times more potent than heroin and carfentanil is 100-times more deadly than fentanyl. Both are added to heroin because users want a stronger high. One of the Eden Prairie overdose deaths earlier this year has been linked to carfentanil.
Because fentanyl and carfentanil can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled, first responders need to exercise extreme caution when coming in contact with potential opioids. As a result, the EPPD has updated our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) policy to require stronger, multi-layer gloves and breathing masks for officers.
While it may seem an uphill battle at times, the EPPD is committed to fighting the opioid epidemic with all of the resources we have at our disposal.
This post was originally published on July 11, 2017 on the Eden Prairie Police Department’s blog.