An Ohio sheriff said he’s so alarmed by the apparent arrival of the synthetic opiate krokodil that he’s promised not to charge anyone who hands over the drug to his office.
Sheriff Pat Kelly said he decided to make the offer after authorities in Athens County confirmed a woman there had used the drug that can cause brain damage and severe tissue damage, including turning users’ skin green, black and scaly.
“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.”
The sheriff said he learned from a confidential informant that the woman bought what she thought was heroin in Columbus and became alarmed when her skin turned scaly around the injection site, although she didn’t seek medical treatment.
“We are hoping that it’s one batch,” Kelly said. “You don’t know what you’re getting when you go to Columbus.”
Authorities in Columbus reported earlier this month that a man told paramedics there that he’d injected himself with krokodil, and firefighters said his wounds were consistent with the drug’s use.
The extremely addictive, injectable opioid is made by mixing codeine tablets with gasoline, paint thinner, iodine, kitchen and bathroom cleaner, hydrochloric acid or red phosphorous from matches.
Its use is epidemic in Russia and Ukraine, where opiates are less readily available than in the U.S., and is cooked up in homemade labs like methamphetamine.
Krokodil, or desomorphine, causes serious tissue damage to the veins and infections that turn soft tissue gangrous and necrotic, particularly near the injection site, and the drug tends to clump in the veins as it fails to completely dissolve in the blood.
Those clumps travel to other parts of the body and damage tissue.
The sheriff said he had an unlikely message to deliver to young people.
“I’m hoping they won’t use heroin it all, but I’m not that naïve,” said Kelly. “I know that they’re going to so, to say, ‘Get your heroin from a trusted source,’ sounds ridiculous coming from a sheriff. But I’m saying go to a source, if you’re going to have to get your fix, you don’t want to get ahold of krokodil.”
Watch this video report posted online by WBNS-TV: