This past weekend, authorities in Carroll County confiscated a deadly, multiple drug-infused “cocktail” during a traffic stop. They said it was “Gray Death,” a term that was well known more than three years ago.
While several mixtures of drugs can fall under that street term, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation offered insight on the broad meaning of “Gray Death” and its impact on the state.
On Saturday, Villa Rica Police found a “gray, chalky-like substance that appears like concrete mixing powder” inside a woman’s backpack during a traffic stop, according to a VRPD incident report. Officers conducted a drug field test, which determined that it was not heroin.
However, the report said another officer noted that it appeared like “Gray Death,” which the officer had learned about from the GBI Crime Lab. The suspect was charged with possession of a controlled substance.
“A lot of times, they may be charged with possession of heroin or possession of fentanyl, but there is other stuff mixed in there when you get the lab report back,” said John Cobb, assistant special agent in charge of the West Metro Regional Drug Enforcement Office.
“Gray Death” is a street term that usually refers to a mixture of opioid-based drugs, according to Deneen Kilcrease, a chemistry section manager at the GBI Crime Lab.
“Commonly, when the GBI Crime Lab gets a gray powder, it contains heroin, U-47700 (a pinkish synthetic opioid), and a blend of different types of fentanyl (another synthetic painkiller),” Kilcrease said. “There is no exact mixture since the drugs are illicitly made.”
Kilcrease noted the use of multiple-drug infused mixtures like “Gray Death” could have fatal effects on a user’s first try.
Cobb explained that if a street dealers don’t mix their product well, a user could use a portion of the mixture with too much fentanyl or heroin, causing a possible overdose or death.
“There are all kinds of concoctions. There is no standard formula most of the time,” Cobb said. “That’s why you have so many overdoses with this.”
GBI Crime Lab officials said it has no way of tracking “Gray Death” due to the different variations of drugs and substances added into these mixtures. The total reported opioid cases in 2020 was approximately 3,200 statewide, according to Kilcrease. She also said there are untested cases from 2020, so the number will continue to grow.
In fiscal year 2020, the West Metro Regional Drug Enforcement Office, which covers 36 counties, including Carroll County, seized a combined total of 14,027.46 grams of heroin and fentanyl. Cobb said the confiscated amount totals a street value of $1.754 million.
To combat the impact of addictive opioid drugs like heroin, fentanyl and mixtures like “Gray Death,” GBI officials said its investigative division actively investigates anyone — from the user to the distributor/manufacturer — who violates the Georgia Controlled Substances Act.
Kilcrease said the GBI Crime Lab ensures that all variations of new drugs can be seen with testing so that they can be reported for investigations.