The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are updating the American public on the ongoing threat of illicit xylazine. In April 2023, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) designated fentanyl adulterated or associated with xylazine as an emerging threat to the United States. Xylazine, also known as “Tranq,” is a powerful non-opiate sedative, analgesic, and muscle relaxant that has only been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for veterinary use. Xylazine has been increasingly identified as a cutting agent/adulterant in the illicit drug supply, often mixed with fentanyl, which increases the risk of suffering a fatal drug poisoning. In July 2023, ONDCP published a National Response Plan to coordinate a whole-of-government response against the threat of fentanyl combined with xylazine. That response plan called for DEA and DHS to provide an update on the sources of illicit xylazine:
DEA and DHS have identified xylazine intended for illicit human use entering the U.S. in several ways—in solid form from China and other countries, in liquid form either diverted from veterinary supply chains or packaged to resemble a veterinary drug, and, to a lesser degree, mixed with fentanyl seized at the southwest border.