One of the drugs is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and is legally used as an elephant tranquilizer.

NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) — Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich published a public warning on Tuesday after the parish recorded four overdose deaths due to dangerous fentanyl-like drugs last month.

Cvitanovich said the deaths are the first reported deaths in Jefferson Parish due to fentanyl analogs carfentanil and para-fluorofentanyl.

The coroner says carfentanil, a synthetic opioid about 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, is legally used as an elephant tranquilizer. Para-fluorofentanyl has a similar potency to fentanyl.

Cvitanovich said 16 deaths have been reported across the U.S. since Dec. 2020 due to the new synthetic drugs.

“The presence of these drugs in Jefferson Parish and the surrounding parishes is cause for concern given their relative strength and the potential for an increase in overdoses and overdose-related deaths, even among opioid-tolerant users,” Cvitanovich said.

Both drugs resemble powdered cocaine or heroin and are injected via snorting, pills or injection. They are usually sold to users that think they are buying heroin or fentanyl. 

“The public and law enforcement should be on full alert due to the extreme danger of these very highly potent and potentially deadly drugs,” Cvitanovich said.