BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A powerful street drug is making its way through Maryland and police say it’s contributing to a number of crimes in Anne Arundel County.

Rochelle Ritchie has the alarming details and how police are fighting back.

This blend of heroin has killed 37 people across Maryland already this year and the number of violent crimes and drug use is only expected to get worse unless law enforcement officials find a way to stop it.

A deadly venom is making its way through the state of Maryland, taking dozens of lives as it goes.

“It’s a problem on many levels. We are experiencing it in Anne Arundel County and regionally,” said Lt. T.J. Smith, Anne Arundel County Police.

It’s being called the “killer heroin” by the DEA. It’s mixed with a high level of fentanyl and has killed 37 people across the state.

“It’s been described as anywhere from 10-100 times as potent as regular heroin so you have people using this drug that aren’t used to this type of kick and it’s causing overdoses,” said Smith.

This new kind of heroin doesn’t have to be injected to give addicts the same high or even kill them. It’s absorbed through the skin so paramedics are now having to take extra caution when dealing with emergency drug calls.

Where the dealers are getting the fentanyl is unclear. It’s often used to diminish the pain in cancer patients. In the last year, Anne Arundel County has been hit with four cases of heroin laced with fentanyl and the crave for a new high means a desperation to fund an addiction.

“We’ve talked about BGE, copper thefts at their sites, at Verizon sites, AT&T sites,” said Smith. “These are heroin addicts.”

Police are certainly eager to take down the drug dealers but say this isn’t a problem you can arrest your way out of.

“We’re trying to prevent people from using it. We’re trying to educate people that are using it and arrest those that are bringing it into the communities,” said Smith.

Heroin is capable of causing liver and heart disease. Drug authorities say addicts often do not know the heroin is laced with fentanyl. In 2006, hundreds of people from Chicago to Philadelphia died after injecting the powerful drug.

After actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead with a syringe in his arm this month, investigators in New York tested the heroin found in his apartment for fentanyl, but found that it did not include the additive.

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