Heroin cut with dangerous drug causes grave consequences

By: Glenn Counts

Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - When heroin is cut with elephant tranquilizers, it creates a deadly combination, which can be found on the streets of Charlotte.

There is a renewed concern about the toxic mix after Channel 9 learned about four deadly overdoses in Charlotte within 48 hours.

Eyewitness News reporter Glenn Counts learned about the dangerous new drug and the building that connects multiple overdoses.

A halfway house in east Charlotte was at the center of this tragic weekend of overdoses.

Two people were taken out of the house, and one survived but the other did not.

Tommy Johnson is a neighbor who saw the paramedics.

"I know it's a halfway house, so what I'm thinking is bad dope,” Johnson said. “I think they got a bunch of bad heroin."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police’s new protocol is to send in suited-up personnel to examine suspected heroin.

"For the most part, heroin that you can buy on the streets is laced with fentanyl, carfentanil," said Kelly Little, an addiction counselor with the Dilworth Center.

She said that fentanyl is bad enough, but the painkiller carfentanil can be fatal with just skin exposure.

Carfentanil is meant for tranquilizing elephants.

"So for fentanyl, it’s about a grain of sand if you have the pure drug. That's all it takes for an overdose,” Little said.

Naloxone, the drug that has been used to counteract overdoses, has proved to be useless in some cases involving this type of heroin.

"So, it's scary, really scary,” Little said. “Honestly, the drug dealers, nobody knows what’s in the substance."

In a 2016 warning to police and the public about carfentanil, the Drug Enforcement Agency said the dangerous opioid is 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

The agency said the substance is not approved for use in humans.

President Donald Trump appointed Gov. Roy Cooper to help fight the nationwide heroin epidemic.

Cooper said the government wants to start focusing on treating the opioid problem instead of simply enforcing laws concerning it.

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