Increase In Zombie, Frankenstein Drugs To Be Hashed Out At FL Summit

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL — Opioids have had a devastating impact on communities across the state and country, including Hillsborough County, said Sheriff Chad Chronister.

Drug dealers have begun trafficking fentanyl mixed with xylazine, known as the flesh-eating “zombie drug” or “tranq” as well as the drug nitzene, nicknamed the Frankenstein opioid, with lethal results.

Chronister said addiction and overdoses have soared in recent years, leaving behind lost lives, devastated families and taxing the resources of hospitals, recovery centers, law enforcement, the judicial system and first responders.

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In an effort to provide information and share resources with local organizations that deal with the impact of the opioid crisis, Hillsborough County has organized “Opioid Summit 2023 – Fighting for the Future of Florida Families.”

The goal is to provide the latest research, data and techniques to help create impactful policies, strategies and processes that can be used by those on the front lines of the opioid crisis.

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The summit will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre, 4121 N. 50th St., Tampa.

Presenters will discuss the opioid crisis from the perspectives of behavioral health and recovery, policy and resources, law enforcement/judicial and health care systems, including first responders.

On Saturday, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Tampa Special Agent in Charge Mark Brutnell and Lakeland Police Chief Sammy Taylor spent time at one of Lakeland’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day collection sites to emphasize the need to properly dispose of expired, unused and unwanted drugs before they get into the wrong hands.

With the rising use of the potent illegal drug fentanyl and the even-more-potent prescription drug, xylazine, the so-called zombie drug, overdose deaths have reached epidemic proportions in Florida, said Moody, who has formally requested that President Joe Biden declare these drugs “weapons of mass destruction.”

However, she noted there are other opioids as well as a variety of prescription drugs that can result in fatal overdoses if used by drug addicts, including oxycodone, hydrocodone (Vicodin) and Adderall, along with the benzodiazepines, central nervous system depressants used to sedate, induce sleep, prevent seizures and relieve anxiety, including alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 190 million opioid prescriptions alone are dispensed to Americans.

From 1999 to 2020, more than 564,000 people died from an overdose involving an opioid. In 2021 alone, 107,000 people died of drug overdoses, said the Drug Enforcement Administration. Of those deaths, 67 percent were the result of using synthetic opioids like fentanyl.


Moody said her successful lawsuit against opioid manufacturers in which Florida received a historic $1.3 billion settlement from drug companies appears to be the first step, not the conclusion, of her battle with Big Pharm.

Xylazine is a Schedule I controlled substance in Florida, meaning it is a crime to possess or sell it in Florida. It is intended to be on animals. Nevertheless, dealers are mixing it with fentanyl and peddling it with deadly results, she said.

“Floridians need to be aware that xylazine is making one of the deadliest drugs in history, fentanyl, even deadlier, she said.

Xylazine is a sedative, not an opioid, and, therefore, resistant to standard opioid reversal treatments such as Narcan, she said.

“There has never been a more dangerous time to take a chance on any illicit substance, and this drug is only making the problem worse. I’m urging everyone to never use illicit drugs. Just one pill or one use can kill,” Moody said.

According to the DEA, xylazine and fentanyl mixtures have been seized in 48 states, including Florida. DEA lab system reports show that, in 2022, approximately 23 percent of fentanyl powder and 7 percent of fentanyl pills seized contained xylazine.

People who use xylazine may develop severe wounds, including necrosis—the rotting of human tissue that may lead to amputation.

The Frankenstein opioid isotonitazene is a synthetic opioid that currently has no accepted medical use in the anywhere in the world, yet the drug is still being manufactured, said Moody.

Isotonitazene has been found to be significantly more potent than fentanyl so Moody is pushing new legislation to add nitazene compounds to the list of Schedule I substances in Florida.

“Addiction can begin with medications in your medicine cabinet, so I’m encouraging Floridians to join our fight to end the opioid crisis by disposing of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs,” she said. “These drugs could fall into the wrong hands—fueling addiction and even causing an overdose death.”

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“Today’s drugs are the deadliest I’ve seen in my law enforcement career,” Brutnell said. “We are seeing drugs that look like prescription pills, but instead contain deadly levels of opioids. With this in mind, it is more important than ever to properly dispose of unused and expired prescription medicines to deter drug abuse.”

Here is the link to the Opioid Summit Agenda.

A partial list of speakers includes:

Moody has created the Dose of Reality Florida website, a statewide, comprehensive resource that provides information about opioid misuse and links to support resources.

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