MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. - You may have heard about the powerful opioid fentanyl. Now investigators are warning Arizonans about something even stronger called carfentanil.
"Carfentanil is actually 100 times stronger than fentanyl," said DEA Special Agent Doug Coleman. "It's 5,000 times stronger than heroin, and it's ten thousand times stronger than morphine.
The Drug Enforcement Administration recently confirmed the state's first carfentanil overdose. It happened in Maricopa County.
According to a press release from the DEA, a 21-year-old man was found dead in the driver's side of a car outside of a restaurant.
Coleman says it is unclear what other drugs he may have taken and the source of the carfentanil remains unknown.
"You can get carfentanil over the Internet," Coleman said. "And so people will get this drug from underground sources in China. They'll get this drug, and they won't realize what it actually is, and so they'll mix it in with another product. Sometimes we'll see it mixed in with heroin; sometimes we'll see it mixed in with cocaine."
Carfentanil is not approved for human use in the United States, Coleman said and is only used for putting down large animals like rhinos or elephants.
In fact, Coleman says they only allow 19 grams of carfentanil are allowed to be legally produced each year to meet the needs of everyone in the country.
Going forward Coleman says the goal for the deal will be to track where the opioids are coming from.
"That's the only way that you can stop something like this," Coleman said. "You have a cluster of deaths, or you have a death, you get the evidence that's there at the scene then track back immediately to the guy that gave it to him."