The US drug enforcement agency (DEA) is advised to seize a mixture of xylazine with fentanyl, known as Tranq or zombie drug, in 48 of the 50 states of the country.
The DEA has seized “mixtures of xylazine and fentanyl in 48 of the 50 states” across the country, the agency said in a statement.
Xylazine, a sedative used by veterinarians, “makes the most dangerous drug ever facing our country, fentanyl, even more deadly,” DEA Director Anne Milgram said in a statement, according to the AFP agency.
At least 107,735 Americans died between August 2021 and August 2022 from poison poisoning, 66% of them from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, up to 50 times more powerful than heroin.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been warned that mixtures of xylazine with fentanyl, known as Tranq or the zombie drug, have been seized throughout the United States.
Fentanyl is primarily manufactured for the facilities of the Mexican cartels, particularly the Sinaloa Cartel and the Cártel Nueva Generación (CJNG), with chemical precursors originating in China.
According to the report, in 2022 approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA will be xylazine, known on the streets as a “zombie drug” that makes users look like zombies.
Mixing xylazine and fentanyl increases users’ risk of “lethal poisoning,” but because xylazine is not an opioid, the antidote known as naloxone “does not reverse the effects,” he said.
Even so, experts recommend that people tolerate the dose.
A woman who lives on the street Skid Row, a marginal area of Los Angeles, where drugs are set up. ( Associated Press Photo/Jae C. Hong)
People who inject drug combinations that contain xylazine can develop serious injuries, including necrosis, that is, skin rotting that can lead to limb amputation, US health authorities have warned.
The substance, which first appeared in Philadelphia before migrating west to San Francisco and Los Angeles, was used to cut heroin, but has more recently been found in fentanyl and other illegal drugs.
Although approved by the Food and Drug Administration for veterinary use, xylazine – a non-opioid, is not safe for humans, and those who do not respond to higher doses of the drug than naloxone or narcotic, are reversal treatments.
Xylazine causes symptoms similar to sedatives, including excessive drowsiness and respiratory depression, and raw wounds that can become severe and expand rapidly with repeated exposure. Ulcers that can develop into scaly skin and lead to amputation if left untreated.
Because it is not considered a controlled substance for animals or humans, “Tranq” falls into a confusing and scary gray area, and hospitals rarely test it with routine toxicology.
In an investigative note, the New York Post reports that last January a Philadelphia addict suddenly developed xylazine-specific wounds near his opioid injection site. “I would wake up in the morning crying because my arms were dying,” Tracey McCann, 39, said of the issue.
The last time the DEA issued a public safety alert was in September 2021, when it warned of a rise in counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.
In November 2022, it updated it, warning that six out of ten fake pills mixed with an opioid contain this potentially lethal dose.
The New York Post reported that – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – 107,735 Americans died between August 2021 and August 2022 from drug intoxication, and 66% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.