WEST MONROE, LA. (KTVE/KARD) — In the midst of an epidemic of fentanyl, the deadliest drug in the united states, something else has made its way onto the street drug scene. and what it is, may surprise you. Xylazine- nicknamed “tranq” or the “zombie drug”- is a tranquilizer used by vets on large animals like horses and has made its way into street level drugs in the nation.

While it is being seen more in the northeast region of the country, southern states are not immune to it, with a DEA report saying that over 1400 deaths were caused by xylazine in the southern states in 2021.

Doug Schmitz, commander of metro narcotics in Ouachita Parish, told me that so far, none of their labs have come back with evidence of xylazine. However, Louisiana has seen seizures caused by the tranquilizer. A /march 2023 report by the United States DEA says that 23% of fentanyl powder seized and 7% of fentanyl pills seized have contained xylazine.

Jay Warford, owner of Pine Hills Veterinary Hospital, told me more details about the tranquilizer and why it is so dangerous for humans.

“We use it as a sedative and also as an anesthetic (in horses). So we use it for minor castrations and things like that, but it is a depressant. It slows the heart rate down. It slows breathing down, it decreases blood pressure, and it causes sedation and in the patient…It was never designed for humans, a person could go into a coma, they may quit breathing all together.”

One of the most dangerous characteristics of xylazine is that it is not an opioid, making it resistant to opioid overdose treatment and leaving users with lifelong, potentially fatal, issues.