A new street drug dubbed “gray death” is so powerful that it can kill users in a single dose. Several overdose cases have already been reported in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and Ohio. Now, investigators warn that the drug is so potent that it can even be transmitted through skin contact.
“Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis,” said Deneen Kilcrease, who manages the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The street drug is made from a killer concoction of opioids that includes heroin, the painkiller fentanyl, and the tranquilizer carfentanil (which is used to put tigers and elephants to sleep).
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, gray death is 100 times stronger than fentanyl. Fentanyl on its own is already 50 times more powerful than heroin. Put another way, gray death is like taking 10,000 doses of morphine.
“The Mexican cartels, they don’t tell their supplies what’s in the drugs,” said Nick Ernstes, a deputy at Hancock County Sheriff’s Department in Indiana. “It’s not going to a chemistry lab for them to test it.”
But don’t take it from Ernstes; take it from Richie Webber, who overdosed on fentanyl-laced heroin in 2014.
“You don’t know what you’re getting with these things,” Webber told The Associated Press. “Every time you shoot up, you’re literally playing Russian roulette with your life.”
Another reason gray death is so dangerous? It’s price. Doses can be acquired for as little as $10, making it easily accessible to anyone seeking a cheap thrill.
Thus far, the drug is mostly confined to the southeastern United States. However, all new street drugs carry the potential of becoming worldwide epidemics, which is why authorities are warning about its lethality.