Conquering Addiction


Martin County sheriff warns about dangers of 'flesh-rotting' drug 'tranq'

'You have catastrophic damage at the site where it’s injected,' William Snyder says
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Posted at 1:37 PM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-09 14:03:21-05

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — WPTV is learning more information about a highly dangerous drug that is hitting the streets of Martin County.

NewsChannel 5 first reported on the drug called xylazine, commonly referred to as "tranq," Wednesday night.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said lab results found traces of it following the arrest of a woman, they said, was selling and distributing narcotics in 2022.

WPTV’s Kate Hussey spoke to the sheriff on Thursday to talk about the full danger of the drug and how the sheriff’s office is working to combat it.

Snyder said in all his years combatting drugs on the streets of Martin County, he’s never seen a drug as dangerous as "tranq." And while there’s only been one case so far in the county, he believes this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Snyder said "tranq" is a horse tranquilizer that is usually only given to veterinarians, but said dealers are adding it to fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine, or other drugs, to increase the euphoric effect.

Snyder said some people are purposefully seeking it out, while others are unknowingly using drugs laced with it.

Snyder said it rots its user’s flesh and leaves large open wounds that won’t heal. Snyder said it doesn’t take much for the dose to be lethal, yet the overdose-reversing Narcan doesn’t work on it.

“I find this very concerning and very alarming. Anybody that would put a needle in their arm is already at great risk, now you add this, you have catastrophic damage at the arm site where it’s injected,” he said. “And you also have the potential for overdose that we can’t help with.”

The sheriff said he is not sure how the drug found its way to Martin County, but said like any narcotic, xylazine can get in the wrong hands, pharmacies can lose track of it, and shipments can get stolen.

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office has now sent five overdose death cases back to the lab to see if they’ve been laced with "tranq." Snyder said it will be a few weeks before results come back.

Snyder said the only way for his office to get this new drug off the streets is to continue cracking down on fentanyl, heroin and narcotics.