Fourth person dies amid contaminated heroin probe

A fourth person has died amid an ongoing investigation into a series of drug-related deaths in Colchester.

Essex Police said the man fell ill and died at an address in the city on Thursday morning.

The force has said the current supply of heroin and crack cocaine in the area "may be contaminated with synthetic opioids".

Seven people have so far been arrested for drugs offences and three have been charged as part of the investigation.

Drugs charity Open Road also said it believed the heroin supply in Colchester could be contaminated with synthetic opioids.

Police revealed all the deaths took place in private places.

'Significantly more powerful'

The force said it had also responded to "a number" of non-fatal overdose incidents in recent days.

It added that officers had seized a number of "significant items" during the arrests it had made across Colchester and London.

More than 2,000 "support messages" have been sent to Class A drug users in Colchester offering them support, the force said.

"We are targeting a number of drug lines which operate in Colchester," said Det Supt Gary Biddle.

"In doing that, we are taking people we believe to be Class A drug suppliers off the streets, alongside significant quantities of Class A drugs."

Matthew Gauden, of Open Road, said drugs laced with synthetic opioids were "significantly more powerful".

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