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Police scramble to keep flesh-eating drug out of Michiana

By Darla Hernandez, Reporter , DHernandez@wsbt.com
Published On: Oct 17 2013 05:59:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 17 2013 06:09:22 PM CDT

WARNING: VIDEO IS GRAPHIC!!! Police here in Michiana are trying to figure out how to keep a newly growing, highly-addictive flesh-eating drug out of the area. WSBT's Darla Hernandez has the disturbing story.

A drug known as "Krokodil," which is cheap and even deadlier than heroin, is growing in popularity throughout the country and causing concern here at home.

Multiple cases have showed up in Illinois, and now, authorities locally are scrambling to figure out how to keep this drug from spreading on the streets of Michiana.

Police say the drug that first surfaced in Russia has made its way to cities like Peoria and Joliet, Ill. South Bend police says it's just a matter of time before it makes its way here to Michiana.

The images look like something out of a horror movie. Rotting flesh and open sores, this terrible drug is called Desomorphine commonly known as "Krokodil" or "Krok."

It's 10 times stronger than heroin and even more addicting, says John Gallagher, a professor at Indiana University-South Bend and an addictions counselor at Oaklawn Psychiatric Center.

"Some of the clients we work with are at particular risk for using it, especially those who are addicted to heroin, because if heroin is not available and this is the substitute, if someone is experiencing withdrawals, they will turn to this drug," said Gallagher. 

South Bend police worry that because the drug is a lot cheaper than heroin and easy to make, it could put officers and first responders at great risk.

"These individuals that you come in contact daily with law enforcement have a raging case of MRSA a lot of times too, so we are going to have a big health threat to officers if this really takes off," said South Bend Police Capt. Phil Trent.

Even more difficult for local police will be spotting the drug.

"You can't just walk up like you would heroin or cocaine, take a tiny bit of it, put it in a test kit, break the ampule, read the results and say, 'Here we go, we are ready to make an arrest,'" Trent said.

Gallagher says if patients test positive for codeine, they may likely admit to heroin and not Krok because of the stigma attached to the drug.

"My biggest concern is that patients may be using this drug, and we may not find out till it's too late." stated Gallagher.