Animal sedative ‘zombie drug’ showing up in Orange County

Drug showing up in 80% of fentanyl seen in undercover cases

Orange County Sheriff John Mina (Orange County)

ORLANDO, Fla. – A powerful animal sedative has been discovered in seized fentanyl in Orange County, prompting a warning to the public because the drug is not receptive to overdose medications, sheriff’s officials said during a Tuesday news conference.

Sheriff John Mina and members of his narcotics unit said they dismantled a drug trafficking organization in a case called “Operation Moscow Mule,” which targeted a group accused of distributing fentanyl.

The sheriff’s office said officers went undercover to infiltrate the organization and made several purchases. The sheriff’s office said it eventually learned about a “drug mule” who was bringing drugs from a supplier in New Jersey.

The agents seized half a kilogram of fentanyl intended for the Orange Blossom Trail-Oakridge area, which the sheriff’s office said is a hotbed for opioids.

“From 2022 up to currently, they’ve had over 150 overdoses in that area with nine fatalities, so the drugs were already targeting an area that was having problems,” said Capt. Darryl Blanford, of the narcotics unit.

Blanford said the case is also part of a growing trend of fentanyl being mixed with xylazine, a powerful sedative used on animals during surgery. The drug is not meant for humans because it causes dangerously low blood pressure. It is also not receptive to Narcan, the widely distributed medication used to counteract opioid overdoses.

The drug can also cause rotting tissue at the injection site, leading to the nickname “zombie drug.” Blanford said users also get a “kind of walking stupor” as well.

The sheriff’s office said the drug extends the effects of fentanyl, particularly the quick high that users get. Blanford said it’s also more profitable for drug dealers because they use less fentanyl.

“Five years ago, you wouldn’t have even seen xylazine in any of the drugs,” Blanford said. “It’s grown from 1% to 7% in 2018, to now we’re roughly at about 80% of the fentanyl that we see in undercover cases contains some form of xylazine in it.”

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The sheriff’s office said it has seen three overdose deaths in Orange County this year linked to xylazine.

The sheriff’s office said if someone overdosing on the drug is not receptive to Narcan, paramedics need to be called immediately.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.