Area Law Enforcers Warn of 'Gray Death' Opiate Drug

Area Law Enforcers Warn of ‘Gray Death’ Opiate Drug

Law enforcement officials throughout the area are warning residents of a new heroin derivative commonly called “gray death,” which looks like concrete mix and varies in consistency from a hard, chunky material to a fine powder.

There have been no reported instances of the drug in Kane County or in the Chicago area. However, there have been reported cases of overdose deaths in Alabama, Georgia and Ohio.

Kane County Coroner Rob Russell sent a news release last week warning residents about the substance, which is a combination of several opioids, including heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and a synthetic opioid called U-47700.

“It has been difficult enough to warn citizens of pure heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, and other opiates,” he said. “Now all of these substances, and more, are being combined together and used at an alarming rate and people are dying because of it.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, carfentanil in itself is “a dangerous new factor in the U.S. opiod crisis.”

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid that’s about 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

Carfentanil (CREDIT: DEA)

“The presence of carfentanil in illicit U.S. drug markets is cause for concern, as the relative strength of this drug could lead to an increase in overdoses and overdose-related deaths, even among opioid-tolerant users,” the DEA says.

The presence of carfentanil poses a significant threat to first responders and law enforcement personnel who may come in contact with this substance. In any situation where any fentanyl-related substance, such as carfentanil, might be present, law enforcement should carefully follow safety protocols to avoid accidental exposure, the DEA says.

Russell, who is chairman of the First Responder Committee of the Chicagoland Opiate Aarea Task Force, said he made the public announcement as an opportunity to “get ahead of the curve and thwart some area deaths.”

“If this news release saves one life because a citizen recognizes ‘gray death,’ it is worth it,” he said.

“Gray death” in powder form. (CREDIT: Kane County Coroner’s Office)