HUNTINGTON -- The man accused of selling the batch of heroin that led to 28 overdoses across Huntington and Cabell County in a six-hour time span has been sentenced to more than 18 years in prison.
Bruce Lamar "Benz" Griggs, 22, of Akron, Ohio, entered a guilty plea in January to the distribution of a quantity of heroin and faced up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine at his sentencing today, with the requirement to pay restitution.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Robert C. Chambers sentenced him to slightly less time than the 20 years - 220 months – on Monday afternoon.
Between July and Aug. 15, 2016, Griggs made five trips to Huntington with the intention of selling heroin, usually buying $1,000 worth of heroin each trip and selling it for $20 to $60 at a time. He was seen on video from cameras maintained in the Marcum Terrace area from 2:09 to 3 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2016, the day of the overdoses, dealing the drug, which later was found to be mixed with fentanyl, an opioid used as part of anesthesia to prevent post-surgery pain, and carfentanil, an elephant sedative 100 times more potent than fentanyl.
Twelve doses of naloxone, the opioid overdose-reversing drug, were used to revive victims that day. Three of those were for one patient. The remaining patients were revived using bag-valve masks, handheld devices used to provide ventilation to patients not breathing.
Only 26 overdoses were called in originally. Days later, law enforcement agencies tied at least one death to a heroin overdose. A man died at Cabell Huntington Hospital after those who had called 911 did not disclose he had a history of drug use and previous overdoses.
A second man was found dead of an overdose at Prestera Center's Pinecrest apartments on U.S. 60 on Aug. 17.
Chambers said Monday the two deaths had not been definitively connected to Griggs' dealings.
Griggs returned to Akron, Ohio, with five grams of the mixture he returned to the supplier. By then he was implicated by several victims and later was arrested by Tallmadge, Ohio, police after fleeing West Virginia.
This is a developing story. Check back later for additional details.