SOUTHOLD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A very dangerous batch of drugs has killed six local East End residents this week, and police are urging caution.

The historic tourist community is devastated.

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As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reports, it’s a bustling summer destination, but this week the fishing village of Greenport and, across the bay, Shelter Island, are rocked with grief.

“It’s very heartbreaking,” said Kemba Buchanan.

Buchanan says the pain is stinging. Six people died in eight days when a bad batch of fentanyl-laced cocaine ravaged young lives.

In Southold and Shelter Island, three others unintentionally overdosing were saved in the nick of time.

“We count on the police and our first responders to try to protect us, but only so much they can do to keep everyone safe,” said Southold resident Evan Geoffroy.

Free Narcan is being distributed and classes are being offered at local libraries amid the sorrow.

“A lot of these people who passed away were community members, locals, that everyone loved and cared about,” said Jason Novetti.

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Police believe illicit drugs may have been processed in the same space and then peddled.

“If you’ve purchased any kind of narcotics on the North Fork in the last two weeks or so, you should dispose of it safely and as quickly as possible,” said Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley.

Law enforcement is targeting the drug dealers. and working towards an arrest to bring manslaughter charges against the dealer, or dealers, in connection with the fatal overdoses.

Ceremonies honoring lives lost and educating all ages on the dangers of drugs are underway.

“It was a very moving vigil,” one person said.

“So tragic and so unnecessary on so many levels,” said another.

“While there’s a lot of pain out there as a result of these fatalities, the fact that we are actually having the discussion,
the fact that communities are coming together,” said Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family & Children’s Association.

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Reynolds says there is still time to reverse course, to avoid the distinction of 2021 being Long Island’s deadliest year of drug overdoses.

Jennifer McLogan