A New Street Drug Is Now Coming To The Streets Which Might Just Be The Worst In Californian History

A new drug — a sedative normally used for animals as a matter of fact — is increasingly making its way into the illicit drug trade in California, and local officials are concerned its arrival could worsen an already alarming overdose crisis that’s prevalent in the area, to say the least. Traces of xylazine, commonly known as “tranq,” have been found to have contributed to a small number of overdose deaths in San Francisco and Los Angeles, indicating the drug commonly used by veterinarians to tranquilize animals has already started to make its way into illegal street drugs here.

In San Francisco, four people who had perpetually died between December and January were found to have low levels of xylazine in their systems, prompting the city’s Department of Public Health to issue a warning on Thursday about the drug, noting that it could be mixed with other drugs like fentanyl and heroin, unbeknownst to the user, causing harrowing damages to the body. Dr. Gary Tsai, director of substance abuse prevention and control for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said traces of the drug were found in the system of one fatal overdose victim in the county in 2021.

Although no other cases have been detected locally, thankfully so, Tsai said the lack of awareness and testing for xylazine could mean its real impact has been underreported. “Because it’s not that common, it’s not routinely tested for,” he said. “It’s possible that it’s more out there.” Still, Tsai points out that tranq is increasingly showing up across the country, usually mixed with opioids to increase their effects.

U.S. law enforcement officials first noticed tranq’s use as a street drug in Puerto Rico, but then found it began to make its way to states in the Northeast. “It’s not that common yet, but similar to fentanyl, it was more prevalent in the East Coast and it’s moving west,” Tsai said. “This is something that’s concerning.” In an October 2022 report, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration warned that xylazine was increasingly being detected in illicit drugs. Although the drug is sometimes used on its own, the DEA reported it is most often found combined with other substances, including fentanyl, cocaine and heroin.