A NEW drug found in Louisiana and dubbed "gray death" is reported to be so deadly that just touching it could be fatal.
Authorities said the substance - a potent mix of heroin, fentanyl, and other fentanyl analogues - was found on suspects in St Mary Parish last week.
The drug is reported to resemble concrete or burned charcoal, and to have first begun to surface in Georgia and Alabama.
It is estimated to be 10,000 times stronger than morphine.
Deputies in St Mary Parish said that arrests had been made after the substance was confiscated from individuals travelling through the area from Lake Charles.
Pictures posted to the Facebook page of the local sheriff's office showed a number of plastic bags containing grey and white lumps of powder.
Various drug paraphernalia was also visible.
A statement accompanying the post called gray death "a lethal combination of some of the most deadly opioids".
"We made a couple of arrests in the last few days with something we don’t see very often around here," it read.
"It’s a new type of heroin called 'gray death'.
"The unidentified super drug began to surface in the south in Alabama and Georgia.
"A minuscule amount of this drug, which has the appearance of small chunks of concrete, can kill.
"The public is advised to never pick up or touch this drug if you ever encounter it and to call and report it to law enforcement."
WHAT IS FENTANYL?
Fentanyl is a strong opioid intended for use as a painkiller but also used as a recreational drug, often mixed with cocaine or heroin.
The drug is usually taken by injection, a patch on the skin, or orally.
It has a rapid onset and its effects typically last under two hours.
Common side effects include nausea, headaches, pain, and fatigue.
Fentanyl is also one of a number of drugs contributing to America's so-called opioid epidemic.
In 2016, fentanyl and its analogues were responsible for more overdose deaths in the United States than any other drug.
More than 20,000 people died taking the drug - about half of all opioid-related deaths.
America's onoing opioid epidemic began in the late 1990s with the overuse of opioids as painkillers, but has worsened enormously in recent years.
In 1999, the number of opioid related deaths was 8,048, a figure that by 2017 had risen to 47,600.
By comparison, 2017 saw just under 40,000 people by guns.
No details of the people arrested or the charges they face have yet been released.
The earliest batch of gray death dates back to at least 2017, and it has reportedly been linked to several fatal overdoses.
It is considered so dangerous partly because its ingredients and strength vary from batch to batch.
Fentanyl is one of a number of drugs contributing to America's so-called opioid epidemic.
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The epidemic began in the late 1990s with the overuse of opioids as painkillers, but has worsened enormously in recent years.
At present, around 130 people die from opioid-related overdoses every day in the United States.
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