'Grey death': Louisiana police say powerful opiod can kill on contact

The drug is reportedly 10,000 times more potent than morphine

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 05 February 2020 22:54
Police called to scene of mass fentanyl overdose in Chico, California

Police in Louisiana have issued a warning over 'grey death' - a powerful drug combination that can reportedly cause severe illness and even death through skin contact alone.

David Spencer, a spokesperson for St Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office near New Orleans, said: “The public recognises a lot of the drugs that we deal with. This is a new one."

According to the sheriff’s office, “grey death” is made from heroin that has been cut with fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and reportedly it has a potency more than “10,000 times greater than morphine.”

The unidentified super drug began to surface in the south in Alabama and Georgia. A minuscule amount of this drug, which has the appearance of small chunks of concrete, can kill,” a statement from the sheriff’s office stated.

Grey death and mixtures similar to it are responsible for many of the overdoses that made up the opioid epidemic in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. The drug has been around since at least 2017.

“In order to be clear on our story, let us reiterate that this is the first time we have seen this drug by our agency. We are quite sure that the drug has been found in other places in Louisiana, but in our area and parish, this is a bit of a rare find for us,” the sheriff’s office posted in a Facebook statement.

At the height of the opioid crisis, myths abounded of fentanyl that could kill with a single touch. In most instances, those claims were overstated, as touching heroin, even if it is laced with fentanyl, cannot kill a person.

Grey Death is particularly powerful because it contains Carfentanil, which is often used as an elephant tranquillizer.

Though health professionals disagree with the assertion that opioids can kill on contact, the SMPSO urged the public to avoid touching the drug if they encounter it and for first responders to take special care when responding to calls where the drug is involved.

“You would really hate to see somebody innocent touch this not knowing what it is or a child touch that now knowing what it is,” Mr Spencer said.

SMPSO deputies said they first encountered the drug during traffic stops in January.

"[A SMPSO deputy] knew he had something. He just didn't know what it was," Mr Spencer told KATC3 News. "These guys handle this stuff all the time. they see drugs on a daily basis and for them to run in something they didn't know what it was it alarmed them. they started doing research immediately."

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