A sheriff in Athens, Ohio, gave startling advice to drug users after authorities learned the heroin-like, synthetic drug Krokodil was allegedly purchased by accident in Columbus.
Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly told heroin users they need to be careful that they’re not buying the flesh-rotting morphine derivative Krokodil.
Kelly said the Columbus drug user who reportedly purchased Krokodil in Ohio had gangrenous wounds consistent with the ones the drug is known to cause.
Krokodil contains codeine and toxic chemicals like iodine, gasoline, paint thinner, cleaning oil or lighter fluid that cause the flesh to rot off.
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The drug is eight to 10 times as potent as morphine and about three times more potent than heroin.
The user in question claims she thought she bought heroin in Columbus, but became concerned when the skin around the injection area turned green.
"I'm hoping that they won't use heroin at all, but I'm not that naive. To say 'get your heroin from a trusted source' sounds ridiculous coming from a sheriff," Kelly told 10TV. "But if you're going to have to get your fix, you're not going to want to get ahold of Krokodil."
“We are hoping that it’s one batch,” Kelly said. “You don’t know what you’re getting when you go to Columbus.”
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In an effort to get the drug off the street, Kelly promised that anyone who brought it into the sheriff’s office will not be charged with any crime.
“We don’t want them selling this drug to anyone else,” Kelly said. “We want to get the stuff and get it tested. We are interested in helping the addict.”
Dr. Abhin Singla, director of addiction services at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Michigan, reported several cases of Krokodil infections in the Chicago area last month.
Skeptics say the recent infections could simply be from dirty needles and don’t confirm the presence of Krokodil in America.
In order to confirm the drug’s presence in the U.S., DEA agents need a sample to test positive for the active ingredient desomorphine, or they must catch the drug in production, according to the Huffington Post.
Krokodil, which originated in Russia, is named for the green, scaly skin that afflicts users. The rotting flesh is actually gangrene. The drug can also cause permanent brain damage and damage to internal organs.
"I've been worried about methamphetamine and heroin for years," Kelly told the station. "This just gives us another drug to be worried about."