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GBI issues warning about elephant tranquilizer disguising as heroin

The GBI says lab scientists have enhanced their safety protocols to protect them from the potential dangers of carfentanil. (Image: WKRC)

Within the past week, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI)'s Crime Lab’s drug identification unit says it's received three cases from separate seizures of the synthetic opioid carfentanil.

Carfentanil is a fentanyl analog used as a tranquilizer on large animals such as elephants.

The GBI says It is purported to be 100 times stronger than fentanyl and suspected of playing a role in hundreds of overdoses in the Midwest part of the country this past month.

It can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and very toxic in small quantities.

The GBI says the cases that came in the lab were from the metro Atlanta area and were all suspected to be heroin.

Commander Patrick Doyle with the Lookout Mountain Drug Task Force says he expects the drug to travel up to Northwest Georgia from Atlanta soon.

Doyle says so far, there have not been any reported cases of Carfentanil in Northwest Georgia, but his department has added more levels of precaution to deal with fentanyl and carfentanyl when it arrives.

Officers are now carrying doses of the reversal drug Narcan, in case of an accidental overdose. They also use gloves for every drug investigation now, instead of just certain ones.

As a result of this drug coming into the GBI Crime Lab, the GBI says lab scientists have enhanced their safety protocols to protect them from the potential dangers.

Some of the changes include wearing a face mask as well as testing any case suspected to contain heroin under a ventilated hood.

Officer safety is of grave concern and all officers are strongly encouraged to take extreme caution when handling any suspected opioid.

Carfentanil is not intended for human use and the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan may be effective but only after multiple doses. The public is urged to be aware of the extreme dangers of handling and consuming carfentanil.

Professor Ed Ramsay with the UT College of Veterinary Medicine says there is only one supplier of Carfentanil in the United States, and only wildlife and zoo veterinarians with a special license have access to the prescription.

You don't have to accept living with an opioid addiction. Go here to see local resources where you can get help.

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