Powerful 'Gray Death' Drug That is Deadly to Touch Circulating in Louisiana, Police Warn

A local police department in Louisiana has warned the public about a deadly drug cocktail known as "gray death" the department seized in recent arrests.

The St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office said it was the first time the drug had been seen in the area, describing it as "a bit of a rare find for us" while sharing photos of the substance to Facebook. The agency has warned the drug is so powerful that citizens should avoid even touching it.

"You don't want to touch this. If at all possible you don't even want to put it on your hands," police spokesperson David Spencer told KLFY.

The drug is considered particularly dangerous because it typically contains a mixture of carfentanil, heroin and fentanyl, often at unknown quantities.

It first surfaced in 2017 after a spate of overdoses in several U.S. states, including Alabama, Indiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

In solid form gray death has the appearance of concrete. It can be ingested by various methods, including injection, smoking and snorting. Fentanyl is considered up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Carfentanil reaches 10,000 times the potency, according to Healthline.

"Gray death is extremely dangerous, even in a very small dose. A user typically will not know what is contained in the mix when they use it, and the product is often fatal," a Drugs.com fact sheet warns and notes the public should avoid skin contact as it's lethal even at low doses.

Citing the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, fact-checking website Snopes confirmed in 2017 "casual contact" can be dangerous as the drug in a powder firm can go airborne. In May of that year, a police officer in Ohio reportedly suffered an overdose after handling the drug.

***UPDATE*** . In order to be clear on our story, let us reiterate that this is the first time we have seen this drug by...

Posted by St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office on Friday, January 31, 2020

That same month, a synthetic opioid alert was issued by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), which said the cocktail was linked to more than a dozen deaths in the state.

"The GBI Crime Lab has received approximately 50 cases containing U-47700 and furanyl fentanyl this year," it said in a release at the time, describing one form of gray death.

"Many of the cases contained three or four different additional opiates. Because furanyl fentanyl and U-47700 are lethal at very low doses, law enforcement and the public should use caution when handling these drugs. They ... are extremely toxic in the smallest quantities," it added.

Experts said side effects of the narcotic include shallow breathing, dilated pupils, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lethargy, cold or clammy skin, loss of consciousness and even heart failure.

According to the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office, drugs in recent arrests were recovered from multiple suspects who were traveling across St. Mary Parish from the Lake Charles area.

"You would really hate to see somebody innocent touch this not knowing what it is or a child touch that now knowing what it is," Spencer told KLFY, saying all cases should be reported to the local police. "We just definitely want to educate the public so they know, hey, this is a new thing."

If you need help with addiction, information and expert aid is available via the National Drug Helpline. Call 1-844-289-0879. The line is available 24 hours, every day.

Gray Death
Police released this image of the 'gray death' drug cocktail (middle), surrounded by meth that was also recovered during recent arrests in Louisiana. St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office