A synthetic chemical additive 10,000 times more potent than morphine is being laced with heroin now, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Forensic scientists at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation say the synthetic additive, carfentanil, is approximately 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times stronger than fentanyl.
“We have a heroin epidemic, and often times we are seeing heroin mixed with fentanyl, and that’s a problem because it is 15 to 20 times stronger than heroin. Now we are seeing heroin mixed with fentanyl and with carfentanil,” said Jill Del Greco, Ohio Attorney General public information officer.
Del Greco said the BCI state labs have not yet seen carfentanil in their tests. She said it’s being reported by local labs in Akron and Columbus. Police in Akron, Ohio have reported 91 overdoses and eight deaths since July 4, with 17 overdoses in 48 hours earlier this month as a result of heroin/opioids.
“We anticipate it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing it,” said Del Greco. She said when law enforcement submits drugs to them, the drugs are tested to determine specifically what they are.
Del Greco said drug traffickers will cut the heroin with different things and a person taking the heroin doesn’t know what it’s mixed with.
“If you have someone who is suffering from addiction, they take what they think is an amount they think their body can handle. What we have seen is that they are getting, and they don’t realize, heroin with fentanyl in it. Sometimes it is pure fentanyl. They think they are taking what they can handle, not realizing it is mixed,” said Del Greco.
Del Greco said carfentanil is used as a bison and elephant tranquilizer.
“We know that it is very strong,” said Del Greco.
Vernon Stanforth, Fayette County Sheriff, said recent overdoses in Fayette County required more Narcan to revive the people.
“We have seen a couple of overdoses that required several doses of Narcan to reverse/block the heroin,” said Stanforth. “According to the EMS, several doses of Narcan had to be administered in recent cases.”
Stanforth said he can’t imagine the devastation the new additive is going to cause. He said Narcan may not work to reverse/block the affect of carfentanil.
“It’s not manufactured in Ohio,” said Melvin Patterson, spokesperson with the Drug Enforcement Agency in Washington, DC.
He said the synthetic drug is likely manufactured in China and shipped to Mexico. Then it makes its way into the United States, where it’s worth more financially. From there, distribution is usually to one of the major cities.
“It just depends on the trafficking utilization points of the drug traffickers,” Patterson.
“It’s just a matter of time, if it’s not already here,” said Stanforth.
Reach Ashley at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton