READING, Pa. - Two men were arrested Monday after a rash of overdoses, some deadly, in Berks County over the weekend.
Jerry Alvarez and Jesus Adolfo Tolentino face a slew of drug charges, including delivery of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver.
The overdoses prompted Berks County District Attorney John Adams to issue a public health alert Monday morning. Adams said a total of 12 overdoses were reported in the county on Saturday and Sunday. Three of them were fatal.
"The individuals that overdosed in West Reading apparently went down together immediately after using the cocaine and they dropped," Adams said.
Investigators said Alvarez, 30, of Sinking Spring, provided Tolentino, 22, of Reading, with cocaine laced with fentanyl. They said Tolentino and four others overdosed on the drug combo outside Brewer's Bar & Grill on South Third Avenue in West Reading.
"So some of the staff came out, and someone who was inside who happened to be a nurse came out with," said Britton Knosp, who works security at Brewer's.
From West Reading to Reading and Rockland and Exeter townships, police said they began picking up on a pattern.
"We have liaisons that work with the county district attorney's office, so we get intelligence from them, information from them," explained Sgt. Sean Fullerton, Exeter Township Police Department. "We share a law enforcement network, whether it's email, phone call or detective sergeants."
Police said Narcan, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, continues to save lives.
"A lot of times, police officers can get to a scene before a medic can, before a fire department can, so there have been several instances where people are experiencing an overdose and Narcan is a miracle," Fullerton said.
The moments following an overdose are crucial, but so are the moments hours later at the hospital.
"At Reading Hospital, we have a 24/7 Warm Handoff program, so anyone that shows up at that emergency room as a result of an overdose will be seen by a recovery support specialist," said Stanley Papademetriou with the Berks County Council On Chemical Abuse.
If you have any information regarding the overdose death investigations, you are asked to contact Crime Alert Berks County.