CLEMSON, S.C. (WYFF-NBC) — Police are warning that an illegal drug being used in the Clemson area is far more dangerous than heroine or fentanyl.

Clemson police posted Thursday on Facebook: “Time for a serious discussion folks. A drug known as carfentanil has been detected in the Clemson area. This synthetic opioid is normally used as an elephant tranquilizer and has no human medical uses."

Clemson Police Chief Jimmy Dixon said investigators recently got back toxicology results from two cases last year in which one of the victims, who had been thought to have alcohol poisoning, tested positive for carfentanil.

Dixon says the scary thing is that some people may not even know they’re putting a drug that could tranquilize an elephant into their system.

“It is approximately 10,000 times more potent than morphine and can come in many forms, from powder -- often disguised as other illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine -- to blotter paper, tablets, patches,and spray. It can be absorbed through the skin or accidentally inhaled and the effects of exposure usually appear in minutes. “

After a spike in drug-related deaths in Ohio were traced to carfentanil, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman told NPR that the drug was being made in laboratories in China and then shippedt o the U.S. by mail.

China banned the export of carfentanil in February.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a public warning about carfentanil,

“Carfentanil is surfacing in more and more communities.” DEA acting administrator Chuck Rosenberg said. “We see it on the streets, often disguised as heroin. It is crazy dangerous. Synthetics such as fentanyl and carfentanil can kill you. I hope our first responders -- and the public -- will read and heed our health and safety warning. These men and women have remarkably difficult jobs and we need them to be well and healthy.”

“Fentanyl is being sold as heroin in virtually every corner of our country. It’s produced clandestinely in Mexico, and (also) comes directly from China,” acting DEA deputy administrator Jack Riley said. “It is 40 to 50 times stronger than street-level heroin. Avery small amount ingested, or absorbed through your skin, can kill you.”

Carfentanil Fast Facts:

  • Carfentanil is a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act, used as a tranquilizing agent for elephants and other large mammals.
  • The lethal dose range for carfentanil in humans is unknown, but it is 100 times stronger than fentanyl,which can kill in the 2-milligram range
  • Carfentanil is a serious danger to the public, first responders and medical and laboratory personnel. It can be absorbed through the skin or through accidental inhalation of airborne powder.
  • Symptoms of exposure include respiratory depression or arrest, drowsiness, disorientation, sedation, pinpoint pupils, and clammy skin. The onset of these symptoms usually occurs within minutes of exposure.
  • Naloxone is an antidote for opioid overdose. Immediately administering naloxone can reverse an overdose of carfentanil, fentanyl orother opioids, although multiple doses of naloxone may be required.
  • First responders should avoid field testing suspected fentanyl or a fentanyl-related compound. Only specially trained and outfitted law enforcement professionals should handle any suspect substance, and the appropriate officials within the agency should be notified.