DeKalb County

GBI seeing first signs of new potent drug used with heroin

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News has learned a deadly drug sometimes added to heroin has now arrived in Atlanta.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne talked with agents at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that it is causing major safety concerns even in the crime lab.%



Carfentanyl is a chemical cousin to fentanyl which is already a huge concern for its deadly effects on heroin users.

“It’s transdermal which means it’s absorbed through the skin. Overdose death can occur. If you inhale it overdose can occur,” said Nelly Miles with the GBI.

Miles says carfentanyl is meant for large animals like elephants, but the danger it poses is not to only users of heroin, with which it’s often mixed, but police or anyone else who comes in contact with it.

“Right now it’s showing up 50,000 times more potent than heroin,” Miles said told Winne.


Miles said as the drug is laying a lethal trail across the Midwest, the first three seizures of it have turned up in the state crime lab. They were sent to the lab as suspected heroin by police in metro Atlanta.

“Effective today, the scientists are having to wear these masks,” Miles told Winne, showing him the protective precautions the crime lab is now taking. “Anything that is suspected to be heroin is going to be tested in this hood and that's for safety reasons.

A New York Times report suggested in a week in Ohio and Indiana alone, carfentanyl might be linked to at least 189 overdoses.

“One dose of so-called Narcan, the overdose reversal drug, might not work with this?” Winne asked Joe Karpf with the GBI crime lab.

“That's not going to do it. We're seeing reports where it’s going to take three or four doses of Narcan,” Karpf said.

Remarks by U.S. Attorney John Horn at a heroin summit at the Cobb Galleria over the weekend about carfentanyl prompted Winne to inquire about the drug with the GBI. They confirmed Wednesday it’s here.