Suffolk Crime Lab gets new tool to fight opioid epidemic

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Suffolk officials unveiled a new tool Tuesday in the fight against the opioid epidemic.  

The tool is called a quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer. Suffolk County officials say it is aimed to save lives by getting dangerous drugs and drug dealers off the streets. 

News 12 is told the tool will help the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory with the ability to analyze samples containing illicit drugs and identify substances, such as fentanyl, that the lab previously did not have had the power to detect. 

Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini says, "It will be able to identify fentanyl analogs, precursors that are used to make these illegal substances. That's critical because oftentimes you see a very small amount of a precursor, for example, in a package of drugs. And without the appropriate technology, we cannot prosecute that case." 

For Krista Bertschi, of Coram, time has not healed the pain of losing her son Anthony Mazzella. He was 21 when he died of a heroin overdose nearly three years ago. 

“My son's death was caused by an overdose of heroin and fentanyl, and I know for a fact that he didn't intend, he didn't want to die,” she Bertschi says. 

Chief Stuart Cameron assures the new tool will help cases like this. He says the device will allow drug dealers to be brought to justice more quickly, more effectively and to be charged appropriately. 

Bertschi says she is hopeful that the new technology will help save other families from going through the pain she endures now. 

By securing the mass spectrometer, the Suffolk County Crime lab is now the only lab in the state, other than the Drug Enforcement Agency in Manhattan, that has this equipment.

The device costs $400,000. Officials say it was purchased entirely with money seized from drug traffickers.

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