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Illegal drug ‘tranq-dope’ seen in Mid-Missouri as it extends reach nationwide


Two people have been charged in Mid-Missouri with selling a new, deadly type of opioid mixture.

Miller County detectives found xylazine -- a veterinary sedative known on the streets as "tranq-dope" -- mixed with fentanyl during a drug raid Feb. 21. It's an indication that the drug is making its way around Mid-Missouri as it is reported in more national overdose deaths.

"Tranq-dope" is xylazine mixed with fentanyl and is becoming more common in U.S. overdose deaths. According to the CDC, xylazine is a tranquilizer that is not approved for use in people and can be life-threatening, especially when mixed with fentanyl.

Miller County detectives found several other drugs and evidence as well during the search warrant.

ABC 17 News spoke with DEA assistant special agent in charge John Schrock and he says that xylazine has been on the scene for a couple of years now and has become more prevalent in the last 12 months.

In a joint intelligence report from the Drug Enforcement Administration, xylazine is a non-opiate sedative, analgesic, and muscle relaxant only authorized in the U.S. for veterinary use. However, the DEA is warning the public of its sharp increase in a public safety alert.

“Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram says in the report. “DEA has seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 of 50 States. The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that in 2022 approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.”

DEA's St. Louis Division spokesperson Andree Swanson said that the DEA has recently started to track xylazine. Swanson also said that naloxone is not as effective in reversing overdoses with "tranq-dope" because xylazine is a tranquilizer.

Schrock said, "somebody that was affected from a fentanyl poisoning, if there was a xylazine involved, the administration of naloxone in the field would help as it relates to the fentanyl, but would have no impact on the xylazine. And so it advanced life support at a hospital is the only course of action that will help that person that was affected."

The public safety alert says people who inject "tranq-dope" and other drug mixtures with xylazine can develop severe wounds, including rotting skin tissue that could lead to amputation.

Right now xylazine is not deemed as an illegal drug because it is used by veterinarians, but the DEA and other agencies are looking to make it a controlled substance.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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Jazsmin Halliburton


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