HARTFORD -- Eleven officers are back on the job after a Hartford drug bust sent them to the hospital Tuesday night.
For a few weeks, police have had their eye on an apartment at 50 Forest St. After they went inside Tuesday night, they found cash, two guns, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of heroin, raw heroin, and raw fentanyl.
Ronald Perez, 28, Byron Rivera, 26, and Marcus Tyson, 30, all of Hartford, were arrested and charged by Federal authorities with possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, one kilogram or more of heroin.
"When they made entry they noticed a powder, a cloud of powder in the air," said Hartford Deputy Chief Brian Foley.
While securing the three suspects, the sergeant made the call for the ten officers to get outside. Foley said they had their protective gear with them, but didn't use it initially for tactical reasons. Once outside, some of the officers had headaches, nausea, coughing, and sore throats from the exposure to the raw drug powder.
"Some of them actually vomited. Based on that, the supervisor of the emergency response team got them to go to St. Francis," said Foley. All the officers were released shortly after.
Foley said this scenario is a first, but not surprising. They've been training for it and expected it at some point.
Dr. Danyal Ibrahim, Chief Toxicologist at St. Francis Medical Center, said protective gear can make a big difference especially when raw heroin and fentanyl are dispersed in the air. Ibrahim says being in close proximity and inhaling fentanyl can be deadly if there are no emergency crews on scene. Fortunately, that was not the case with the officers.
"If you feel there's powder or dust or smoke you're inhaling, you need to report it and remove yourself from this situation," said Dr. Ibrahim.