WRENTHAM, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Police officials in Massachusetts are warning the public about a potentially deadly new trend in fentanyl trafficking.

On Monday, March 20, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reported on the widespread threat of the synthetic opioid drug fentanyl mixed with xylazine. Otherwise known as "Tranq," xylazine is a powerful sedative approved for veterinary use.

"A lot of these opiates suppress your respiratory system, your heart rate," Wrentham Police Chief Bill McGrath told WBZ NewsRadio Friday. "And then when you add to it another drug that does the same thing, that’s a compound factor. I think it just leads to definitely the possibility of a lot more trouble for the person using it."

While opiate overdoses can be reversed through the use of Narcan and other naloxone medications, those lifesaving measures have no effect on xylazine.

"The drug users themselves have said it can be 6-8 hours of very deep sleep," McGrath said. "And the Narcan isn’t effective against this xylazine because it’s not an opiate."

As a result, EMTs are urged to use artificial breathing to counteract xylazine's effect to slow down a person's breathing and heart rate.

"They’re recommending rescue breathing because the tranquilizer is suppressing all of that," said McGrath. "You have to make up for that with artificial breathing."

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports.

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