New drug, 'gray death,' gaining popularity

ATLANTA — A new drug gaining popularity among heroin users is being blamed for several deaths in Georgia.

“Gray death,” as it’s known on the street, recently made its way into the state.

It earned its name because it has a similar consistency to concrete mix and is many times more potent than heroin.

The drug has a similar consistency to concrete mix.

The Georgia Bureau of investigation is waiting for lab tests on several local deaths to see if the drug is responsible.

“We’re highly concerned from a public safety standpoint that this mixture of drugs is out there on our streets,” GBI Crime Lab’s Joe Karpf said.

Agents say the new, unknown drug poses a major danger in our communities.

“This is a new combination of drugs that we’re seeing in the lab. It’s a highly potent, highly toxic combination,” Karpf said.

GBI Agent Nelly Miles says the cocktail is a cocktail of substances, several of which could be lethal by themselves. Miles believes the cocktail is intended for users of heroin or other addictive opiates.

“To see the number of different compounds all in one sample, it blows my mind,” Miles said. “I have never seen a combination like this before.”


Michael Stone, a recovering heroin addict, said it’s not surprising that users would try this new drug.

“From my own experience, when you’re that addicted and it gets to that level, you don’t care and it’s all about getting high,” Stone said. “I remember saying to myself several times, ‘If I die, I do and if I don’t wake up, I’m dying. Hey, I’m happy.’”

Stone has been clean now for 2 ½ years.

“You have to live for something greater than yourself,” he said.

Miles said similar combinations to what they have in their lab have turned up in at least five recent police seizures across Georgia, with slight variations in each.

In Cobb, Murray, Fulton, Clayton and Liberty, it was described as a “gray material.”

“I was amazed to see that someone would put what looks like concrete mixing powder in their body,” Miles said.

She said the GBI believes deaths have likely occurred but it’s too early to tell.

Channel 2’s Mark Winne canvassed several local medical examiner offices.

DeKalb Medical Examiner's Office Director Patrick Bailey says his office has seen two recent deaths that were probable overdoses involving a synthetic drug "that we've not encountered previously."

He said the office is waiting on lab tests to confirm the chemical makeup of the drug and the role it played in the deaths.