An opioid epidemic is already at hand, but authorities are now warning the public about the latest and scariest opioid drug threat. Heroin is now being combined with U-47700, fentanyl, and carfentanil to create a lethal designer combination drug; appropriately named “Gray Death”. It can be snorted, injected, swallowed, or smoked. Gray death looks a lot like concrete mixing powder and varies in texture from a gray rock to fine, loose sand. Imagine seeing what appears to be a piece of concrete, picking it up, and...
A Review of Common Street Opiates
1. Heroin: An opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. Other common names for heroin include dope, horse, junk, and smack. Heroin sells for around $60 per gram.
2. “Pink”: A synthetic opioid pain medication developed as a designer drug. Street names include: Pinky, U-47700, or U4” The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has placed U-47700 into Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, effective November 14, 2016. Reports have surfaced of deaths since 2015, Importation into the U.S. is primarily from clandestine chemical labs in China. Pink comes in pill and powder forms; it’s color ranges from white to a light pink. The drug is 7.5% more potent than heroin. It sells for about $30 gram.
3. Fentanyl: Fentanyl, is another synthetic opiate. However, it is a scheduled level II medication, as it does have medical uses. It is the most potent opioid available for medical treatment. Fentanyl is considered an “Incapacitating Agent” by the CDC, and is solely used as a surgical anesthetic or as a narcotic to treat chronic, severe, or “breakthrough” cancer pain that cannot be controlled by other medications. Then there is the street fentanyl, commonly called Apache, China girl, China white, dance fever, friend, goodfella, jackpot, murder 8, TNT, Tango, and Cash. According to the DEA, the fentanyl being sold on the street is produced clandestinely in Mexico and China. Fentanyl is available in many forms: powder, patch, pill, liquid, even lollipops. 50-100 times more potent than morphine Additionally, fentanyl is over twenty times more profitable than morphine.
4. Carfentanil: Carfentanil or carfentanyl is an analog of the synthetic opioid analgesic fentanyl. It is also a scheduled level II medication. It is marketed under the trade name Wildnil as a general anesthetic agent for large animals, such as elephants. Carfentanil is 10,000 times stronger than morphine, 100 times that of fentanyl, with activity in humans starting at about 1 microgram (for reference - it takes just three micrograms of carfentanil to tranquilize an elephant). It is usually found in a white powder, it too, is made in China. It costs about $3 per gram.
So, what happens when you mix any or all of these chemical formulas together: * C21H23NO5 (Heroin) + C16H22Cl2N2O (Pink) + C22H28N2O (Fentanyl) + C24H30N2O3 (Carfentanil) =
* Now, remember, there is no recipe related to how much of each ingredient is added. This compound is made by drug dealers, not chemists, and the only test subjects are humans. You get chaos, overdoses, and are all too frequently consumed by “Gray Death”
* Gray Death is cheap, on the street this entire mix may cost you only $10 to $20. Since the cocktail is still relatively new, there are no official death statistics; but they are significant.
An Anonymous Opiate Addict’s Quote About the Cycle of Abuse
“It's like warm golden sunshine flowing through your veins. It makes everything ok, and it makes everything beautiful, and it makes anything seem within your reach. Then you come down. And need more. And will do anything to get it. It's your best friend at first, and when you still can quit, you'd never dream of it. Then at some point that is indefinable and inevitable, it turns on you. It grows fangs and claws, and it wants your soul. It lies to you and tells you that you aren't doing anything wrong. It makes you feel like you would rather die than spend another second without it. Then before you know it, your days are consumed with waking up dry heaving and so sick you want to die (provided you could sleep at all, which is dependent upon whether or not you had a shot before bed...) Once you finally get a first hit of the day, then it's time to start really looking for something to get you by. You lie, scam, break the law, and sell your soul to get just barely enough to keep you out of bed. You take that last shot of the day, and become filled with dread and exhaustion thinking how you'll manage it tomorrow. Then you go to bed, only to wake up a few hours later because your muscles are twitching and cramping. You fight with yourself for ten minutes about whether or not to take that small hit you saved for morning, inevitably take it, and then wake up a few hours later, only to start all over again. And you'd rather die than live any other way.”
Opiates Present Increasing Risks to You as Law Enforcement Officers
Gray Death presents a significant threat to police officers; forcing changes in long-standing basics of drug investigations, from confiscations to testing and undercover operations. Gray Death is so strong that just handling it without gloves can allow the drugs to seep into your skin and into your bloodstream, or through accidental inhalation of airborne powder.
The largest risks for officers and detectives is coming in contact with any or all of the agents that make “Gray Death”. Think about an undercover operation such as a buy – best operation, or patting someone down and searching his/her pockets; you can be putting yourself at risk. The onset of adverse health effects, such as disorientation, coughing, sedation, respiratory distress or cardiac arrest is very rapid and profound, and can occur within seconds of exposure.
Aiding in an Overdose
It is not possible to determine what substances are in the opiate overdose when officers or medics are called to a scene. However, you can tell that it's a pretty serious overdose by the amount of Narcan needed to revive a subject. Addicts cannot build up a tolerance to Naloxone (Narcan). If a single dose doesn’t work it is likely a much more significant overdose. Several doses are often required. Narcan is the only antidote. Usually, CPR will work if Narcan doesn’t. The next stop is the ER where they will be put in a medical coma, place a breathing tube will be down the trachea, and the patient will be placed on a ventilator.
The Next Chapter
The opioid crisis in the U.S. has reached a new high now that Gray Death is killing addicts in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, Gray Death will certainly not be the last super-drug to hit the streets. If possible, use your role to educate when you can, but most importantly, stay safe out there.
Heroin is now being combined with U-47700, fentanyl, and carfentanil to create a lethal designer combination drug; appropriately named “Gray Death”