Drug overdose in Arizona attributed to carfentanil, DEA confirms

Apr 17, 2018, 2:31 PM
In this June 27, 2016 photo provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a member of the RCMP ope...
In this June 27, 2016 photo provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a member of the RCMP opens a printer ink bottle containing the opioid carfentanil imported from China, in Vancouver. Drug dealers have been cutting carfentanil and its weaker cousin, fentanyl, into heroin and other illicit drugs to boost profit margins. (Royal Canadian Mounted Police via AP)
(Royal Canadian Mounted Police via AP)

PHOENIX — A new drug could be running rampant through Arizona’s streets.

The Drug Enforcement Agency announced Monday that an overdose that took place late last year was attributed to carfentanil, a synthetic opioid that is used in “veterinary proactive to immobilize certain large animals.”

It was described as a substance that has a potency that is 5,000 times stronger than heroin, 10,000 that of morphine and 100 times stronger than fentanyl.

“It is so powerful that as little as a [grain of sand] can kill a person that has no tolerance,” Doug Coleman, special agent in charge of DEA in Arizona, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“The DEA sets quotas for how much of these controlled substances can be manufactured in a year in the United States. The quota for this drug is less than one ounce that’s even allowed to be manufactured,” he said.

The overdose death involved a 21-year-old male who was found dead in a vehicle parked outside of a local restaurant.

The source of the carfentanil was still unknown.

The drug used to be available to buy from China through the internet, but the Chinese government introduced a law in 2017 that outlawed the manufacturing and production of carfentanil.

“But, there are underground labratories in China that manufacture this drug and they’ll still sell it over the internet,” said Coleman.

“They’re not legitimate websites, but there is a back page, a black market of these people that can talk to these Chinese underground manufacturers and make it, and then they’ll send it over to you on the internet.”

The DEA was investigating leads to determine the origin of the drug.

“We want everyone to be very cautious,” Coleman said.

“The people that have addiction problems with this drug, we want you to be very cautious in what you’re taking. We want get yourselves into treatment. We want parents to pay attention to what their kids are doing on the internet.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Kathy Cline contributed to this report. 

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Drug overdose in Arizona attributed to carfentanil, DEA confirms