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"Gray death" drug is so dangerous, police say you shouldn't even touch it

A local police department in Louisiana is warning people about a potentially lethal drug combination called "gray death" — a substance so powerful, they warn you shouldn't even touch it. St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana is alerting the public about the drug in wake of recent arrests.

David Spencer, a spokesperson for the St. Mary's Parish Sheriff's Office, told CBS affiliate KLFY-TV that "gray death" is a heroin that has been cut with fentanyl — a synthetic opioid that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says is 80 to 100 times stronger than heroin.

"Be aware of the color," Spencer said. "It looks like chunks of concrete."

The drug looks like concrete mix and varies in consistency from a hard, chunky material to a fine powder. It's a combination of several opioid drugs that have been tied to thousands of fatal overdoses in the U.S. In addition to heroin, it may also contain fentanylcarfentanil (sometimes used to tranquilize large animals, including elephants), and a synthetic opioid called U-47700. Gray death users inject, swallow, smoke or snort it. 

The drug first started appearing in Georgia and Alabama in 2017, and then turned up in Ohio and Pennsylvania before making its way to Louisiana, KLFY-tv reports. The first sample seized in the state was recovered from suspects traveling through the the St. Mary Parish, according to police. 

"You don't want to touch this," Spencer told the station. "If it all possible, you don't even want to put it on your hands." 

According to drugs.com, people should avoid contact with it because furanyl, fentanyl and U-47700 are lethal at very low doses. "Gray death" powder can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and can be extremely toxic, even in the smallest quantities, and rapidly lead to fatal respiratory depression, the website says. If the drug is mixed with carfentanil, it is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

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