ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – The illegal drug supply is dangerously tainted more than ever, according to police. And it was a police officer who was one of the latest victims.
According to police and court records, two men in a car on Hyannis Drive in St. Charles thought they were taking cocaine. It was not.
On the morning of Sunday, August 2 investigators from St. Charles police, St. Charles County police and the DEA responded to an overdose.
One of the victims was identified as a police officer with the north St. Louis County municipality Bellefontaine Neighbors. The police department said the officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Court records reveal the men thought they were taking cocaine. One of the overdose victims reported buying it from a man in the parking lot of Ameristar Casino.
Art Deno, who helps people find recovery, said the overdose problem is worse than ever.
“Everything is laced out there now. Fentanyl is the number one drug that everything is laced with,” he said.
Art’s 19-year-old son, Austin Deno, died in 2016 when he thought he was taking a form of Xanax.
“Austin at the time, right before he passed, he wanted to start a second-chance program,” Art said. “We were in the midst of doing that when he passed. He was clean and sober for nine months before this happened.”
Deno said more people are crying for help in the pandemic.
“It’s getting worse out there from the COVID and we knew this was going to be a bad summer when this hit, because everything this COVID is making us do is not what we want people in active addiction doing,” he said.
Deno said isolation is the biggest issue.
Bellefontaine Neighbors police responded with a statement about the officer who overdosed, saying the department “…was notified that a police officer with this department was allegedly involved in inappropriate activity while in the City of St. Charles. The City of St. Charles Police Department, the St. Charles County Police Department, the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department, the United States Attorney’s Office, and federal law enforcement agencies are actively investigating the allegations. The police officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigations. No other information can be provided at this time.”
Deno said it shouldn’t be surprising that an overdose can impact anyone.
“When you’re in active addiction, you’re powerless to the disease out there,” he said. “They don’t even care about that. They’re not thinking about dying, they’re thinking about how can I get my next fix.”
Ameristar Casino also responded, saying it is working closely with law enforcement on this investigation.
Find Deno’s organization, “Austin’s Army,” can be located on Facebook by searching ACPD – his son’s initials. You can also find him on the web at AustinsArmy97.org. You can also check out the DEA’s new page of resources at WithYouSTL.com.