Drug Enforcement Administration


Apolonio Ruiz, Acting , Special Agent in Charge

April 16, 2018

Contact: Erica C. Curry

Phone Number: (602) 664-5609

DEA ALERTS: Arizona’s First Carfentanil Overdose Reported

21-year old male found dead in his vehicle outside local restaurant

PHOENIX - The DEA is alerting all law enforcement, first responders and citizens to the confirmed overdose fatality attributed to the very potent and highly dangerous drug, carfentanil.  A review of overdose investigation records provided to DEA’s Heroin Enforcement Action (HEAT) revealed the incident occurred in late 2017.  Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid with a “potency 10,000 times that of morphine” and is used in veterinary practice to immobilize certain large animals according to DEA’s drug information sheet on carfentanyl.

“Carfentanil is an extremely dangerous drug and its presence in Arizona should be incredibly alarming for all of us, including the DEA and our law enforcement partners who continue to combat the opioid epidemic in this state,” said Doug Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of DEA in Arizona.  “First responders should be prepared and take all necessary precautions to prevent incidental exposure.  And foremost, we must stress the importance of treatment for those addicted to these dangerous opioids prior to their attempted use of this extremely lethal drug.”

DEA agents and intelligence personnel were provided this most recent reporting 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 partnership with the Maricopa County Medical Examiner has been integral in identifying current opioid trends and assisting DEA to deploy its resources for maximum impact against drug trafficking.

In this incident a 21-year old male, was discovered deceased in the driver’s seat of a vehicle parked outside a local restaurant.  The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s report confirmed the presence of carfentanil, yet the source of the carfentanil remains unknown.  The DEA HEAT is examining all available reporting surrounding this fatality to pursue any investigative leads and determine the origin of the carfentanil.  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. 

Concerned citizens may contact the local DEA office (602) 664-5600 to speak with a duty agent; or visit DEA’s to provide any information related to this incident, or other illicit drug related activity.

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