Not long ago, I wrote about the scourge of fentanyl , which is a powerful synthetic opiate sold on the black market as Norco. Fentanyl has been blamed for a rash of overdose deaths but recently the ante has been upped. As shocking as it may seem, a drug, which is 100 times more potent as fentanyl and 10,000 times stronger than morphine, is appearing on the black market. This drug, carfentanil, one of the most potent opioids ever developed, is used to sedate elephants and other large animals. But recently law enforcement agencies are finding that carfentanil is being mixed in with street heroin or even being passed off as heroin.

Carfentanil is so potent that veterinarians administering it typically protect themselves with face shields, gloves and other gear when preparing the medicine. According to the executive director of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, even on drop that inadvertently lands in a person’s eye or nose could be fatal. Although authorities are not sure of the source of the carfentanil showing up on the street, it is suspected that the source may be online sales by Chinese companies.

Some users apparently are looking for a high that can take them right up to the edge of death and that, law enforcement fears, will make this drug even more attractive. Others users may be unwitting victims of this drug as the nationwide heroin and opioid epidemic has resulted in many addicts just looking for a “fix” and they may not be aware that they are getting a powerful and far more dangerous drug. The emergence of fentanyl and carfentanil are beginning to make heroin seem almost safe in comparison. Addiction experts even fear that these more potent drugs will push heroin off the market, eventually resulting in increasingly dangerous overdoses and deaths.

So far, the drug has shown up in Ohio, Kentucky, and Florida. There have been reported fatal overdoses in Ohio and we can unfortunately expect to hear about more as this drug permeates the street heroin trade. While Ohio seems to be ground zero, I will not be surprised to hear that the drug has shown up on the streets of California. It is so new that Akron’s police chief reported in mid-July that he had only heard of it a week ago. Yet in July, there has been a dramatic spike in drug overdoses in Akron and authorities are attributing this spike to the introduction of carfentanil on the street.

William Weinberg is an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you have any questions regarding your criminal defense matter, please feel free to contact him to set up a confidential consultation without charge at www.bill@williamweinberg.com or (949) 474-8008.