Synthetic drug 'krokodil' that turns skin scaly found in St. Clair County for the first time ever

While executing a search warrant at a home in St. Clair County, sheriff's deputies made a disturbing discovery: white powder later identified as krokodil - a substance that has never been seen in the county before and rarely in Michigan.

Just as disturbing is where the synthetic drug gets its name.

"The name krokodil comes because their skin turns green, often times scaly like a crocodile," said Sheriff Mat King. "And there's been people who've had amputations."

King said authorities were investigating someone who was selling drugs when they found the powder, which is a cheap substitute for heroin.

"There was an investigation into a person who was selling drugs, though not this drug. And when we executed the search warrant and subsequently searched the residence, we found this drug and were able to identify it as being Desomorphine," King said.

Desomorphine is the official name of the opioid. While not new to the black market, its presence in Michigan is a disturbing one for both law enforcement and people who work with those addicted to drugs.

That's because reversing overdoses caused by them isn't as simple as a dose of Naloxone.

"When you talk about these synthetics that we know narcan is rarely as effective with them, we don't want to see our deaths rise with our overdoses," King said.

The dealer caught with krokodil had 80 doses. Police speculate he bought it online and were able to confirm the substance after using a testing machine called TruNarc, which uses a laser for identification.

Krokodil was first found in Russia 14 years ago, eventually making it into the U.S. 

Once it's used, the skin near the injection site turns dead and looks like scales found on a reptile - often times with permanent effects. 

"This is actually damaging the cells that often times there's not a recovery of those cells so it's longterm damage to your body that cannot be reversed," King said.

This isn't the only unnerving discovery officials have made in the drug world in Michigan. Last week, the health department said it had linked multiple overdoses to a new animal tranquilizer used by veterinarians.

Medetomidine was found in toxicology reports of three different cases going back to March. Just like with Desomorphine, narcan isn't as effective in stopping an overdose linked to the synthetic sedative. 


Overdoses in Wayne County, around Michigan linked to new animal tranquillizer

Medetomidine has been detected in at least three overdoses since March. The tranquilizer is more potent than other similar animal sedatives - and can't be reversed by narcan.