FDA Sounds Cocaine Fentanyl Alarm in Florida

South Beach

Florida’s cocaine supply is increasingly being mixed with fentanyl

Following a trend that has been seen around the country, law enforcement in Florida has discovered a disturbing trend.

After reviewing the cocaine they’ve snagged over the past year—the cocaine supply in Florida has been majorly contaminated with synthetic opioids like fentanyl and its relatives.

Noting a 22% uptick in drug deaths between 2015 and 2016, the DEA has connected the dots and issued an official warning: the cocaine is possibly toxic and even occasional users of cocaine are at risk of consuming a fatal dose.

The active ingredient in these deaths is fentanyl, an opioid said to be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Just two milligrams of the stuff can be lethal. Of the 180 cocaine exhibits that forensic chemists analyzed that contained fentanyl or its derivatives, the most prevalent was carfentanil, an elephant sedative that has been linked to hundreds of overdoses.

“Two milligrams of carfentanil would be enough to kill 100 people,” said Jill M. Head, supervisory chemist at the DEA Special Testing and Research Lab in Sterling, Virginia.

Drug dealers all over the United States have used carfentanil to boost batches of heroin and maximize profit.

“The total volume of [carfentanil] that’s required to get this elephant to lie down and sleep is in a matter of milliliters,” said Dr. Donald Neiffer, chief veterinarian at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. “[It’s] not a large volume, so it’s a big deal.”

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