'Tranq' mixture, known as 'Zombie drug,' becoming more pervasive in SoCal

It’s known as xylazine. It’s a horse tranquilizer commonly referred to on the street as "tranq" or the "Zombie drug" and is becoming more and more pervasive here in Southern California.

"We thought we had it bad with fentanyl," said Bill Bodner, the Los Angeles special agent in charge of the DEA.

Bodner says fentanyl is increasingly being mixed with xylazine. That’s a tranquilizer first approved for horses, cows and other large animals in the 1960s to put them to sleep to do various procedures. 

"By mixing tranq with fentanyl they can create more of a heroin-like high or more of an oxycodone-like high; a high that lasts longer and that’s really what they’re trying to do," Bodner said.

Tranq can stop someone from breathing. It can kill and disfigure skin and more And, Narcan – a reversal agent – doesn’t work on tranq.

Dr. Matt Waxman, A clinical professor of Emergency Medicine at UCLA, says it’s showing up in his ER. 

"[The patients] are not breathing even if we give them that reversal agent," Dr. Waxman said.

Waxman says at the ER, patients are showing up with necrotic or dead skin, affected organs, wounds that have the appearance of flesh eating disease. 

In some cases, amputation is the only way to deal with the wounds to legs and arms that can take on the appearance of flesh eating disease. 

"We’re not actually sure why patients that use tranq in sites where they didn’t inject or use the drugs are having these terrible wounds on their legs, arms, chest. It really looks to us like chemical burns," he adds.

This is a really disturbing tread, according to both Dr. Matt Waxman and Bill Bodner, and there’s a lot more to all of this we talk about on this week’s FOX 11 News’ In Depth this Sunday morning here on FOX11 at 9:30 a.m. and at noon on FOX 11 Plus, or channel 13.