MACEDON, N.Y. (WROC) — Senator Chuck Schumer joined Wayne and Monroe County law enforcement and medical officials today to call for a new plan to stop the spread of a deadly drug on the rise in the Finger Lakes and Rochester area. An overdose of this particular drug cannot be prevented by Narcan.
This drug is called Xylazine but is sometimes referred to as Tranq, or the zombie drug because it can cause your skin to rot. Lately, authorities have noticed more of it being mixed with popular street drugs, killing dozens of people in the past year.
To prevent future deaths from this Xylazine, Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for the federal government to provide $537 million for local law enforcement which Wayne County Sheriff Rob Milby says will strengthen their crackdown on the distribution of Xylazine at the county level.
“We have resumed those efforts now so that money will help us with our investigation in getting to the table with our county stakeholders,” Sheriff Milby said. “In order to advance those investigations together with our neighboring counties like Monroe who’s having this crisis to form taskforces.”
“It’s a 66% increase and that’s a big increase that would be approved this summer,” Sen. Schumer explained. “To arrive for law enforcement here in Monroe and Wayne County plus elsewhere in the fall.”
Xylazine is commonly used by veterinarians to tranquilize large animals, so it’s not illegal to buy. But Sen. Schumer accuses drug dealers of purchasing it from providers overseas in China, then mixing it with other drugs like fentanyl and heroin.
“So far we have not seen the interference of the drug Xylazine when it’s used by veterinarians being stolen or purloined by drug dealers,” the Senate Majority Leader continued. “It’s almost all foreign markets.”
Last year, 59 fatal overdoses in Monroe County were caused by Xylazine being involved. While Wayne County experienced three, with ten more under investigation. Narcan doesn’t treat the effects of Xylazine, but medical experts still urge you to apply it to a victim to treat the drugs it’s mixed with.
“Even though that won’t impact or affect Xylazine, it will offset the opioid overdose,” Wayne County Director of Mental Health James Haitz told us. “So, we still encourage folks to use Narcan.”
Sen. Schumer is also asking the FDA to work closely with the DEA to track down illicit sources of Xylazine coming through the Northeast and Upstate New York from overseas and at border entry points.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at the event said this drug doesn’t appear to be centered in a particular age group or demographic. They’ve seen it affect drug addicts of all backgrounds.