Public Warning: Deadly Drug Carfentanil (Elephant Tranquilizer) on Streets Sold as Heroin

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Public Warning: Deadly Drug Carfentanil (Elephant Tranquilizer) on Streets Sold as Heroin

Warning to parents, drug users, and others: an extremely deadly drug, up to 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, has been suspected in a huge number of overdoses spanning several states. Most recently, an entire kilogram was nabbed in Vancouver. The drug is frequently laced in heroin, or substituted for it outright.

And yes, one of its most common uses is that of an elephant tranquilizer. Any questions?

The drug is one of the most powerful known to anyone, anywhere.

heroincarfentanilWhere Is It Coming From? In What Form?

While law enforcement is still attempting to track down the drug source.

Toxicologists can’t tell the difference between a drug made by a pharmaceutical company and one illicitly made in a clandestine lab.

Moreover, it could be made abroad or domestically. There’s no way to tell yet.

What we do know is that companies in China sell the drug online, but according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. it hasn’t been appearing much on the streets in the U.S.

Dealers who distribute carfentail as heroin (or cut into it) do so to increase supplies due to the additional potency. That is, just a tiny bit can go a long way. Unfortunately, heroin users are playing Russian roulette, and usually have no idea what they getting.

Carfentanil in liquid form is both colorless and odorless, making it impossible for potential users to know exactly what they are getting, or how much. Shooting carfentail means injecting an insanely powerful drug directly into their bloodstream.

Where Is It Going?

The elephant tranquilizer has been suspected in a number of overdoses and found in drugs seized in Kentucky. In addition, it’s been found in the Tampa Bay and Sarasota areas of Florida. Akron, Ohio experienced more than 230 overdoses in July. Of those, 20 resulted in death, and police have reported that carfentanil was associated with some of them.


Most recently, Vancouver law enforcement say that an entire kilogram of carfentanil was seized, an import from China. According to experts, this is an amount which could produce enough fatal doses to wipe out Canada’s entire population

But it’s not new to Calgary, either. Carfentanil, in addition to fentanyl, has been responsible for overdose spurts there and throughout the rest of Alberta for a few years.

handcuffsIn a new conference this past week, the Canadian Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported that they discovered the drug hidden in a box labeled as printer accessories. It was addressed to a man in Calgary.

Subsequently, they arrested and charged the man with one count of importing a controlled substance, as well as one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Rosayln H. MacVicar, Canadian Border Services Regional Director:

“It is hard to imagine what the impact could have been if even the smallest amounts of this drug were to have made its way to the street.”

The Ohio Epidemic

Back in the U.S., Ohio is ground zero for the drug. Recently, 36-year-old Rayshon Alexander was indicted in Ohio on 20 counts of carfentanil association, including murder related to a death in mid-July, as well as nine other overdoses. Many survivors reported that they believed they were buying and using heroin. However, tests found no heroin.

In addition to the arrest of the Columbus man Alexander, the 236 overdoses in Akron occurred during just a 3 week period – nearly increasing the entire year’s numbers by 50%.

Due to the rapid increase in overdoses, the Ohio Attorney General urged law enforcement to cease with field testing of the drugs, for fear that they would be exposed to the deadly substance.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine:

“It’s just too high of a risk. This stuff is just now hitting. You’re really not seeing departments with any experience with it at all.”


This past week, Pennsylvania prosecutors also issued a warning to law enforcement, citing 200 overdoses in the region, 10% of which were fatal.

More About the Potency, Other Dangers

As noted, carfentanil is about 100 times more potent than heroin – making it roughly 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. It’s not indicated for human use, and is only used for large animal sedation.

carfentanil | Just Believe Recovery PAA 10 milligram dose of the elephant tranquilizer can sedate, or even kill a 15,000-pound African elephant, a musk ox, or buffalo.

If diluted, a mere fraction the same amount could easily cause hundreds of humans to fatally overdose. Even eating the meat of a carfentanil-ingested animal is potentially dangerous for a human.

Of similar strength is another street drug known as W-18. It’s also an opioid, and has been found laced into heroin in Philadelphia, New England, and Canada.

The elephant tranquilizer is so potent that veterinarians who administer the drug wear protective face gear and gloves during handling. Even relatively minor contact can result in illness or overdose. In fact, the anti-overdose drug naloxone is usually kept nearby in the event of exposure.

For those who ingested carfentanil and received naloxone, many had to receive multiple doses of the antidote in order to save them. But even then, there’s no guarantee.

Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, Hamilton County coroner in Cincinnati, issued this public warning:

“Narcan may not save you on this one.”

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

Related: Carfentanil: Deadly Drug Used to Sedate Elephants Found on Ohio Streets


Just Believe Recovery is a fully licensed, Joint Commission accredited, comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment center located in Carbondale, Pennsylvania

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