FDA Issues Warning Over Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine in Florida

By Bryan Le 12/18/17

Authorities have found that Florida’s cocaine supply is increasingly being adulterated with fentanyl-related opioids.

Drug dealer offers cocaine dose or another drugs in plastic bag, drug addiction on party concept, selective focus, toned
Even the smallest dose of fentanyl in a contaminated batch of cocaine can be lethal.

Law enforcement 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.

Cocaine deaths were the most prevalent of all drug deaths in Florida in 2016, with authorities reporting that such deaths have doubled over the past four years. Throughout 2016, there was an average of 36 cocaine-related deaths every month in the Miami-Dade area alone.

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.”

The uptick in such cases indicates to authorities that drug dealers are putting fentanyl into the cocaine, either accidentally or on purpose.

“In some cases, this is done purposefully to increase the drug’s potency or profitability. In other cases, fentanyl is inadvertently mixed into cocaine by drug dealers using the same blending equipment to cut various types of drugs, such as heroin,” read the DEA report.

“Regardless, the adulteration often occurs without the users’ awareness, which leads to overdose incidents. Individuals who use cocaine occasionally are at an extremely high risk of overdose.”

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter