DEA fears flesh-eating drug could end up in Utah

Published: Sunday, Oct. 6 2013 10:10 p.m. MDT

The Drug Enforcement Administration in Utah has a warning for non-drug users and drug addicts alike: stay away from Krokodil. The flesh-eating drug could make its way to Salt Lake City.

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Drug Enforcement Administration in Utah has a warning for non-drug users and drug addicts alike: Stay away from Krokodil.

"While methamphetamine and heroin are guaranteed to give you a slow, painful death, if you want to speed up the process, take this drug," said DEA supervisory agent Sue Thomas.

"If you just want to speed up and horrify the death process a little more, take this drug. It will rot you from the inside out, leaving you with gaping wounds that will leave bones exposed, horrible abscesses and it's a horrific death," she said.

Recently, two cases of people using Krokodil were confirmed in Arizona. Thomas said that's concerning to Utah DEA agents. Phoenix is a "source city" for Salt Lake, along with Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

"It's a city that is directly supplied from Mexico and then that city is used as a massive distribution hub. And Salt Lake City is one of the first stops in the distribution network for drugs leaving Phoenix," Thomas said.

As of Friday, there had been no confirmed cases of Krokodil in Utah. And Thomas said the DEA would like to keep it that way. But if someone starts producing it in a country close to the U.S. where there are no regulations on precursor materials, she fears it could become as common as cocaine, heroin, marijuana and meth in the U.S.

Krokodil, or crocodile, has also been called the flesh-eating drug. It has been compared to morphine, has similar qualities to methamphetamine, and is cheaper than heroin.

The main ingredients: a combination of codeine and either gasoline, paint thinner or lighter fluid.

The drug originated and gained popularity in Russia. It rots a user's flesh and leaves gangrene and large abscesses all over a user's body. Some open gashes are so deep and wide that a person's bones are left exposed.

Despite the dangerous ingredients that go into making Krokodil as well as horrific images on the Internet of what the drug has done to users, drug addicts are still willing to try it.

"You would have to be highly addicted (to use it)," Thomas said. "An avid drug abuser with a very strong addiction is constantly chasing the better high."

For example, a heroin addict will often keep seeking greater quantities of heroin, she said.

"After awhile, severe heroin users don't even get a good high anymore but they have to continue to take the drug or they have horrible withdrawal symptoms," Thomas said, comparing it to "the worst flu you've ever had in your life."

That's when hardcore addicts might turn to something like Krokodil.

"They are willing to use something that will kill them and will cause them horrific pain and illness," she said.

The DEA hopes by stressing the dangers of the drug, they can discourage even hardcore addicts for using it.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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