Drug Enforcement Administration


Douglas W. Coleman, Special Agent in Charge

January 10, 2017

Contact: Erica C. Curry

Phone Number: (602) 664-5609

DEA Warns: “Pink” Overdoses Discovered In Phoenix, AZ

Overdose reporting reveals synthetic opioid U-47700 contributed to deaths

PHOENIX - The DEA announced the recent discovery of three overdose deaths involving the synthetic opioid U-47700, commonly referred to as “Pink.”  The toxicology and investigative reports documenting the fatalities were shared with agents and intelligence resources as part of ongoing efforts by DEA’s Heroin Enforcement Action (HEAT), an enforcement program by DEA’s Phoenix Division to identify and arrest drug traffickers directly responsible for overdose deaths. 

“The discovery of the U-47700 in Maricopa County is a great concern for DEA, law enforcement and the community as the threat of opioid abuse continues to evolve,” said Doug Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of DEA in Arizona.  “The DEA’s HEAT program will target those dealers who directly supplied these lethal substances to the overdose victims.”   

U-47700 was scheduled by the DEA in November 2016, after 46 fatalities attributed to the drug were confirmed across the United States; however, none were previously known to have occurred in Arizona.  Last year, DEA Phoenix working with state and local officials launched its HEAT Initiative to target drug dealers directly.  It was during a second meeting with representatives from the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office that agents learned of the U-47700 related fatalities within Maricopa County.   

A review of the reports revealed the following:

  • On April 24, 2016, relatives of a 55-year-old male from Phoenix, Arizona, found their family member dead in his bedroom.  The toxicology report revealed U-47700 intoxication as a contributory factor to the death. 
  • On June 7, 2016, a 25-year-old male from Mesa, Arizona, with a history of drug use was discovered dead in his bedroom.  The autopsy report cited toxicity from a combination of drugs, including U-47700, as the cause of death. 
  • On August 25, 2016, a 24-year-old male in Phoenix, Arizona, with a history of drug use and a previous overdose, was found dead in his residence.  The autopsy report revealed the presence of multiple opioid prescription drugs, sedatives as well as U-47700. 

The DEA HEAT is examining all reporting surrounding these deaths to pursue any investigative leads and determine the origin of the U-47700 and its current prevalence across the state.  Agents are seeking the assistance of the community and law enforcement to share information concerning the availability of this and any other synthetic opioids as they surface within local drug markets.  The DEA through its HEAT initiative will continue to notify the public of these new drug threats as they emerge.

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