NEW YORK -- Four New Jersey men have been arrested for selling a toxic substance billed as heroin that killed at least 12 local residents this weekend, and police said they were working to break up the drug's distribution network.
Richard Cosme,21, and Jose Mendez, 26, both of Paterson, N.J., were charged Sunday with selling a poisonous white powder passed off as heroin under the street names 'Good Fellow,' and 'Tango and Cash,' said detective Michael McNamara of the Paterson police department.
Michael Johnson, 33, and Edwardo Acevedo, 27, both of Newark, N.J., also were arrested early Sunday for selling the substance, said Newark police spokesman Daniel Collins.
Between Friday night and Sunday morning, the toxic white powder -- sold mainly on street corners in small cellophane bags -- caused two deaths in Paterson, three in Newark, N.J, two in Hartford, Conn., and five more in New York City, police said.
More than 115 sickened users had to be hospitalized in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut -- including 17 in Hartford, 30 in Newark, and 68 in New York City, police said.
New Jersey police said the four suspects were low-level street dealers and their arrests did not indicate the selling ring had been broken up.
Police in all three states said major investigations to locate the makers of the poisonous substance had produced no breakthroughs Sunday.
Police were also awaiting the return of laboratory tests to learn the identity of the toxic substance.
McNamara said Paterson police confiscated about 20 small bags of the substance from Cosme and Mendez and ordered laboratory tests.
'The substance is not a heroin derivative -- but there is no determination yet of what it is,' the detective said.
However, in New York, police spokesman Officer Scott Bloch said the department tentatively was describing the drug as 'extremely potent heroin' pending test results.
Hartford Police Lt. Frederick Lewis said the drug may have originated in New York City.
Lewis said it appeared that Hartford-area dealers 'went down to New York, bought bulk quantities of it, and came back to Hartford and distributed it.'
In New York, officers Sunday roamed the streets of the South Bronx and Harlem in sound trucks to issue warnings about the toxic drug for the second day in a row.
The weekend's poisoning fatalities included Newark residents Willie Bryant, 33, of McCarter Highway, who died Saturday night, and Donald Delassantos, 34, of Summer Avenue, who died early Sunday, said detective Daniel Collins of the Newark police.
A third Newark resident, 22-year-old Dana Chaplin, was found dead in a building at 365 Chancellor Ave. early Sunday, Collins said.
In Hartford, local police said Sam Thedore Jackson, 27, died Saturday night and a second unidentified man was found dead the following morning.
Angel Moriglio, 31, a Bronx resident, and Michelle Fox, 35, of Newark, N.J., died Friday night in New York, according to Officer Scott Bloch.
On Saturday night Santiago Garcia, 28, of the Bronx, and Edinas Rodriguez, 29, of Perth Amboy, N.J., died in New York, Bloch said.
Early Sunday an unidentified woman overdose victim in her late 20s was discovered dead in an apartment 316 E. 117th St., Manhattan, Bloch said.
Paterson police declined to identify the two people who died there.
New York police spokesman Sgt. Ed Burns said authorities determined the substance was dangerous Friday after the numbers of drug overdoses 'started to jump up out of the average.'