Six Arrested In Designer Drug CaseCASSANDRA BURRELL , Associated Press
Dec. 1, 1988 8:49 PM ET
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Six people suspected of manufacturing and distributing the synthetic drug ''China White,'' which has been linked to 13 deaths, were arrested Thursday following raids on five homes, authorities said.
The arrests were a major breakthrough in the investigation of the illegal designer drug methylfentanyl, said Police Chief Ralph Pampena.
Authorities suspect as many as 60 people overdosed on the substance, which was sold either alone or in a mixture with heroin and cocaine in October and the beginning of November, said Allegheny County Coroner Joshua Perper.
The drug also is suspected in seven other deaths.
''What we're saying is that the investigation is completed on this one. We've gone as far as we can go with this group,'' Pampena said. ''But there's a possibility there may be other labs out there.''
Police informants say the drug has disappeared from the street in the last 10 days, Assistant Chief Chester Howard said.
Arrested were Donald Sumkin, 39, of Springdale; Donald Hurley, 31, and John Hricak, 42, both of Bellevue; Richard Williams, 33, of Harmarville; Mary Kathryn McNally, 38, of New Kensington; and Brenda Ragland Smith, 40, of Pittsburgh.
They were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Robert C. Mitchell and charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute the drug. Smith, Sumkin, Williams and McNally also were charged with distribution and with contributing to the death of Jay Duschl, 38, of Verona, who died after taking the drug.
The drug produces a euphoria similar to that of heroin but is hundreds of times more powerful. The small quantities needed to be effective makes it more difficult to detect.