Illicit opioid drugs seized by Pelham police detectives have been mixed with other dangerous pharmaceuticals, including a sedative typically used by veterinarians on horses, cattle and other mammals.
So far, the department has not responded to a fatal overdose involving the drug cocktail, but police say they’re sharing this information to make the public aware that the “deadly mixture is circulating,” according to a Tuesday press release.
The illicit drugs included fentanyl and heroin, both powerful and deadly opioids on their own.
“Drugs that are sold on the streets are often ‘cut’ with other unknown ingredients,” the release states.
What makes this mixture unique is the inclusion of Tramadol, a prescription opioid painkiller, and Xylazine, a drug used on mammals for sedation, anesthesia, analgesia and muscle relaxation.
“When people are buying drugs, they never know what they’re really getting,” said Capt. Anne Perriello.
She said undercover detectives purchased the drug sample in Pelham from a man who lives in Lawrence, Mass., during a “lengthy” narcotics investigation over the past year.
The New Hampshire State Police Forensics Lab identified the additional substances within the drug sample to the surprise of detectives.
“Our officers thought they were just purchasing fentanyl,” Perriello said.
Detectives say the drug is not being marketed as anything unique, and does not have any nickname on the street.
So far, state officials have not identified any overdose deaths in the state that have involved this concoction.
Chief Forensic Investigator Kim Fallon with the New Hampshire Medical Examiner’s office said the office recorded three overdose deaths in 2020 involving Xylazine, and none in any previous year. Each of those cases also involved fentanyl.
“Fentanyl, either alone or in combination with other drugs, is still responsible for the vast majority of drug deaths that we see,” Fallon said.
Fentanyl was involved in 293 deaths in New Hampshire last year, which is about 77 percent of all drug deaths confirmed so far. Thirty-one suspected overdose deaths are still pending toxicology.
There were only three heroin-involved deaths last year, each mixed with fentanyl. But those did not include Xylazine, Fallon said.
Tramadol is recorded in four overdose deaths in 2020, always mixed with other drugs.
Perriello said any Pelham residents struggling with alcohol or drug addiction or with their recovery are encouraged to reach out to Det. Bruce Vieira, the town’s Drug Treatment and Prevention Officer. He can be reached at (603) 635-2411 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.