The extremely dangerous opioid carfentanil has been confirmed in Houston prompting immediate protective measures for forensic laboratories, and first responders.
According to the Houston Chronicle, a presumed batch of methamphetamine tested by the Houston Forensic Science Center (HFSC) in June was found to contain carfentanil. The world’s most powerful commercial opioid is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which itself is 50 times more potent than heroin.
“This stuff is really frightening,” HFSC CEO Peter Stout said. “Its only legitimate use is as an elephant tranquilizer. The estimates are that a lethal dose of this is about 20 micrograms—that would be 20 millionths of a gram. So, a lethal dose is something so small, you’re not likely going to see it.”
The 80 milligrams of carfentanil seized in Houston are enough for at least 4,000 people to overdose. “We must stop carfentanil and related synthetic opioids from entering our region, while we protect our first responders,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “We were able to get a handle on KUSH. Now our focus has expanded to opioids, which are extremely deadly.”
According to Houston TV station KTRK, “Officers will have new and thicker gloves, specialized masks and tougher evidence bags. They are also being told to assume any illegal pills or powders they encounter will have fentanyl or carfentanil.”
— City of Houston (@HoustonTX) June 27, 2017
Houston is just the latest American community to see the appearance of carfentanil. The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a strongly worded nationwide warning to police and public in September:
“We see it on the streets, often disguised as heroin. It is crazy dangerous,” said DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg. “Synthetics such as fentanyl and carfentanil can kill you. I hope our first responders—and the public—will read and heed our health and safety warning.”
Killer drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil continue to be the major driving forces behind America’s escalating drug overdose epidemic. The New York Times recently projected that drug overdose deaths in 2016 “most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States.”
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.
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