Eighteen members of a SWAT team are OK after they were exposed to a deadly chemical during a raid early Wednesday, Pittsburgh police said.
As the SWAT team entered the West End home, a table covered with powered drugs was overturned, sending what authorities believed to be a dangerous synthetic opioid called fentanyl wafting into the air, according to a criminal complaint.
As the drugs became airborne, a number of the officers began to report the dizzying and numbing side effects associated with an opioid overdose. The SWAT team was later medically cleared at a hospital and a hazmat team was called in to deal with the large amount of opioids.
Four people who were arrested at the home were charged with intent to distribute fentanyl, the powerful synthetic painkiller that can be deadly if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. A criminal complaint says authorities found baggies and other drug packaging materials in the home.
Acting U.S. Attorney Soo Song said the operation was a raid of three homes in an ongoing drug investigation that involves various federal law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Homeland Security officials. Song said in a statement that Wednesday's incident underscores the danger of fentanyl exposure in law enforcement.