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Deadly Drug Makes Its Way into Sangamon County

The drug carfentanil is an opioid painkiller that's used to sedate large animals, like elephants.

Two Springfield residents are dead after overdosing on a new drug that's made its way to the area. It's called carfentanil and it's a deadly, illegal drug.

We just learned on Thursday that in the past two months, two local men have died because of it - a 63 year old and a 34 year old. "I was worried because carfentanil, I've been reading about it and hearing about it in other communities, other states," said Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards.

Coroner Edwards said carfentanil showed up in the illegal drug market not even a year ago, and it's already reached Springfield. Others are worried the lethal drug will spread even farther.

"A lot of our heroin is either coming from Springfield or Decatur," said Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp. "So, if these deaths are occurring in Springfield, I'm sure it's going to, unfortunately, we're going to be seeing it down here, too."

Carfentanil is an extremely strong opioid that's used as a tranquilizer to sedate big animals, like elephants.

"As you can imagine, most of us are a shadow compared to an elephant," said Edwards. "So even a small amount is going to be lethal."

Carfentanil is an opioid painkiller that slows down your central nervous system, and is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

"You're going to quit breathing," said Edwards. "It's just that the carfentanil, it's just so much stronger, it's going to happen faster."

Carfentanil can come in several forms, like powder or pills, and can pose a serious danger to anyone who comes near the drug.

"Family members of addicts, addicts themselves, first responders," Coroner Edwards said.

"I'm concerned for the safety of our officers," said Sheriff Kettelkamp. "And we're making sure that they they're being extra careful, and we want to make sure that they're educated and know what's going on. If they touch the skin, it could be deadly to the officers."

Experts said sometimes, people don't even know they're taking carfentanil because it's mixed with other drugs or sold as heroin.

The drug is so potent that the opiate-blocking drug, narcan, would not work.

Local officials said carfentanil and other illicit drugs are produced mainly in Mexico and China. They also say that in Springfield, most of the drugs come from Chicago.

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