Opioid epidemic: 5 things to know about 'gray death'

"Gray Death" is a deadly opioid cocktail making headlines across the nation as its reach and presence on America's illicit drug market seems to be expanding.

While the nation has yet to see a national proliferation of the substance, according to a statement from a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson cited in an NBC News report, the drug has been found in states along the gulf coast, Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina.

Here are five things to know about Gray Death.

1. The substance's name derives from its appearance, which resembles concrete, according to a report from the Indy Star.

2. The deadly cocktail is made of heroin; fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin; carfentanil, which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl; and a synthetic opioid called U-47700, better known by is street name "Pink."

3. A version of Gray Death sans Pink was first encountered in Atlanta in 2012, according to NBC News.

4. The synthetic opioids found in Gray Death are primarily manufactured overseas in China and is either shipped directly from China by mail or smuggled into the U.S. through Mexico.

5. While law enforcement officials are intensifying their focus on Gray Death, domestic drug dealers are continuously developing new lethal drug combinations.

"It's mad science and the guinea pigs are the American public," the DEA's Russ Baer told NBC News. "The ingredients come from abroad, but this is made in America."

More articles on opioids: 
New Hampshire AG prioritizes carfentanil cases 
Researchers identify tools to protect first responders from fentanyl exposure 
Price, Conway address opioid epidemic in West Virginia

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