A Guatemalan drug smuggler who was found dead next to a Pennsylvania highway had swallowed up to $500,000 worth of heroin and died when one of the packets exploded, an autopsy revealed.
Clearfield County Coroner Mike Morris identified the man as Boris Reyes, reports The Associated Press. He has yet to confirm the man's age.
Morris said he is working with state authorities to find out where the drugs came from and where they were going.
Reyes' body was discovered by a motorist over a highway guardrail on Sept. 16. Authorities suspect Reyes was a "drug mule" who smuggled heroin by swallowing packets of the narcotic.
Pennsylvania is currently dealing with a heroin epidemic, with heroin-related overdoses and deaths steadily rising since 2014, according to PennLive.
In October 2015, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a law approving the use of naloxone to reverse heroin overdoses. Five months after the law came into effect, naloxone is said to have saved more than 550 lives.
Eric Kocian, a researcher at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, said addiction to heroin usually begins with prescription pain medication.
"This is not something that is recreational, from what we are seeing," he said. "The pain pill addiction is real. Eventually prescriptions expire or run out and people resort to buying pain pills on the street or from others. When that becomes too expensive and there is still a need to function, heroin is the logical step for them. From there, it is a sad downhill process."