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‘Tranq’: Drug used for horses, cattle turning deadly for humans in Central Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. — A drug penetrating Central Florida communities is causing serious concerns for doctors and law enforcement.

The drug, called xylazine or “tranq,” is intended for large animals like horses and cattle. But now it’s being mixed with other drugs like fentanyl, making it deadly.

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Mixing it with fentanyl creates a cocktail so deadly, experts say not even Narcan can reverse an overdose.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers first started spotting tranq last year.

But they said there was nothing they could do to flag it because it’s legal and approved by the FDA for large animals.

Read: U.S. officials address a new rising drug threat called tranq

By the time they started tracking significant shipments from overseas, it had already infiltrated local communities, which were already grappling with a record number of other drug-related deaths.

Records show that by the time doctors and law enforcement realized tranq was in Florida, it had already killed people in our communities.

Read: 15 arrested for selling fentanyl cut with animal tranquilizer, Orange County Sheriff’s Office says

Channel 9 reviewed the state medical examiner commission reports dating back to 2018. The commission only started requiring local medical examiners to report xylazine in drug-related deaths last year, after 112 people had already died with the drug in their system in 2021.

Hear more about how the drug is impacting people in Central Florida in the video above.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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