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Hoffman death draws attention to US drug use

Death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in a suspected heroin overdose comes amid a recent surge in heroin abuse.

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New York police have arrested four people on drug charges connected to the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The four arrests took place in New York's fashionable "NoHo" district - the name is derived from its location, north of Houston Street.

All four suspects were unarmed at the time of arrest. They have been charged with possession of narcotics.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York apartment on Monday.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York apartment on Monday. Photo: Getty Images

According to the US network CBS, they were also being questioned in relation to the sale of heroin to Hoffman.

Hoffman was found dead on the weekend with a needle in his left arm and a substantial amount of heroin in his apartment in New York's West Village.

Police converged on a building in NoHo's Mott Street just after 7.30pm, New York time.

Three apartments in the building were searched, yielding roughly 350 bags of heroin, according to CBS.

It is believed that none of the heroin recovered in the bust was branded "Ace of Spades", the marking found on the heroin discovered in Hoffman's home.

According to the celebrity news website TMZ, New York police were tipped off by a drug user who had seen Hoffman visiting the dealer at the building in NoHo.

The New York Police Department has not made an official statement in connection with the arrests.

Meanwhile, heroin recovered at Hoffman's apartment has tested negative for the powerful additive fentanyl.

Samples taken from the Manhattan apartment did not contain the potent synthetic morphine, which is added to intensify the high and has been linked to 22 suspected overdose deaths in western Pennsylvania, an official, who was not authorised to talk about the evidence and insisted on anonymity, said.

Investigators have also determined that the Capote star made six ATM transactions for a total of $US1,200 ($AU1,346) inside a supermarket near his home the day before his death, law enforcement officials said.

Investigators have been piecing together his final hours using video surveillance to determine his whereabouts.

Besides the bank records, investigators discovered buprenorphine, a drug used to treat heroin addiction, at Hoffman's apartment and are examining a computer and two iPads found at the scene for clues, two law enforcement officials said.

A spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office said no official determination had been made on what killed Hoffman. Police have said the medical examiner's ruling on the actor's cause of death will determine whether there is any criminality but they suspect it was an overdose.

The New York Police Department's intensive effort to determine the source of the drugs in an apparent accidental overdose is unusual. Courts have found in past rulings that under state law drug dealers can't be held liable for a customer's death.

The Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home, which has orchestrated the funerals for celebrities including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and James Cagney, said it was arranging Hoffman's service.

It said Hoffman's family had requested a private funeral. The funeral is to be held Friday.

with AP