North Carolina lab finds street drugs cut with chemical that leads to ‘aggressive wounds’

A new threat is being found in dangerous street drugs by researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the effects can have a horrifying effect on users.

The substance is an animal tranquilizer used by veterinarians called Xylazine. Its slang name is “Tranq,” and it’s being detected mainly in heroin, but it has also been found in party drugs like cocaine, Molly, and ecstasy.

“It is in the Charlotte area, it is in the drug supply,” said Lauren Kestner with the non-profit group Queen City Harm Reduction. “We have definitely found Xylazine.”

Kestner says it’s being cut into a variety of drugs, and doctors say it can cause skin ulcers, even leading to amputations.

“The wounds happen not just at the site of infection, but anywhere that you have a mosquito bite or a scrape that can rupture into this very difficult ulcer,” said Dr. Nabarun Dasgupta, who runs the drug-checking lab at UNC Chapel Hill.

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Dasgupta and his lab work with 20 programs throughout the state, collecting and testing street drugs. Of 425 recent samples tested by the lab, 117 samples contained Xylazine.

“It’s kind of picking up steam in terms of visibility,” Dasgupta told Channel 9′s Dan Matics.

He added that drug dealers will lace their drugs with “Tranq” because it can soften the withdrawal. The lab mentioned that the drug emerged in North Carolina back in 2020, but it has just recently risen to a level of concern. It’s mostly in fentanyl and heroin for that reason, but it’s showing up in other drugs.

“We are not seeing it as much in the cocaine, ketamine, MDMA supplies, but we do see it consistently in cocaine and fentanyl,” Dasgupta said.

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And Kestner is seeing the effects show up in regular life.

“We have program members who are reporting lesions,” Kestner said. “They are very aggressive wounds that are extremely serious and can spread quickly.”

Researchers say Tranq doesn’t discriminate, and it can affect chronic street users to experimenting college students.

(WATCH BELOW: York Co. sheriff’s drug chemist says they see fentanyl more than any other drug)