Drug used to tranquilize elephants is being used by Bay area drug users

Posted at 5:59 PM, Sep 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-09 01:58:31-04

Carfentanil is used to sedate large animals, but deputies in Manatee County said they are seeing local drug users using the drug.

"As soon as someone ingests carfentanil, they think they are taking heroin and next thing they know they are unconscious," said Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Dave Bristow.

Bristow said they have only dealt with a handful of cases, but they are hoping to stop the drugs in its tracks.  The concern is especially scary after eight people recently died from the drug in Ohio.

Gerrie Stanhope is especially concerned.  She formed a support groups for the families of drug users.

"It's scary, very scary I'm not sure if the people who use are aware of how bad this stuff is," said Stanhope.

Her group is called "No Longer Silent."  She helped formed the group in 2015 after her son died from a drug overdose. They plan to hold an awareness meeting Saturday night outside of the Manatee County courthouse. 

"I know speaking out helps me get over the trauma of what happened, I think it's great that other people know they aren't alone," said Stanhope.

Bristow said his agency is getting tougher on drug dealers.  They hope to start charging dealers with homicide if one of their customer dies from the drug.