As if fentanyl wasn’t deadly enough, drug cartels have begun cutting fentanyl with xylazine, also known as “tranq.” Xylazine is a powerful sedative approved for veterinary use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Los Angeles officials have become alarmed at a growing number of drug users developing rotting skin and muscle.
“Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier,” said U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrator Ann Milgram in a statement. “The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that in 2022 approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.”
Naloxone (Narcan) is a powerful drug that reverses opioid overdoses but it does not work against xylazine, which is not an opioid. Milgram’s statement noted experts recommend always giving naloxone to individuals suffering a drug overdose, though.
“People who inject drug mixtures containing xylazine also can develop severe wounds, including necrosis — the rotting of human tissue — that may lead to amputation,” the DEA administrator added.
The New York Post further reported:
Los Angeles officials are sounding the alarm over the “concerning” spread of a “zombie drug” that can have gruesome effects on addicts including eating away at their flesh.
Local street drug “tranq” — also known as animal tranquilizer xylazine — can lead to horrifying results when mixed with other illegal drugs like heroin and fentanyl.
LA authorities are now in a race to track it as it rapidly rises in use and can lead to skin and muscle rotting away, according to reports.
“It’s really gruesomely disfiguring people,” Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Bill Bodner told KTLA.
“It’s much more likely to stop someone from breathing and the things that come along with xylazine, it’s a vasoconstrictor. So when you’re injecting it, it’s actually reducing the blood circulation.”
The LA County Sheriff’s Office started a new program that would track how common the dangerous substance — not meant for humans — is.
It only became a priority for authorities recently because it isn’t an illegal drug, the local outlet reported.
The program began in mid-April with crime lab analysts marking when preliminary signs of xylazine were detected in seized drugs, the Los Angeles Times reported.
It’s expected to run for a month before next steps are mulled over.
“In the greater Los Angeles area we are seeing Xylazine as an additive within fake fentanyl pills,” DEA spokesperson for the LA Field Division Nicole Nishida told the newspaper. “While the numbers are relatively low in our community compared to elsewhere in the United States, the presence of xylazine is now becoming more frequent and the trend is concerning.”
Addiction expert Cary Quashen said he’s “never seen anything like what we’re dealing with right now.”
“We had a woman come in and her sister had passed away from a fentanyl overdose,” Quashen told KTLA. “But not only was it a fentanyl overdose (but) her skin was starting to rot, the muscles on her leg and her arm. So that’s a sure sign of xylazine.”
Los Angeles isn’t the only place dealing with the horrifying substance.
The DEA issued an urgent public safety warning in March that xylazine is now being used as a cheap cutting agent for fentanyl and has reached 48 states.
In New York, the deadly “zombie drug” has been tied to dozens of deaths, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at the end of March.
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