Schumer wants more Fed resources to combat lethal drug Xylazine, known as ‘Tranq’

Posted 20 March 2023 at 8:52 pm

Provided photo: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer was in Macedon in Wayne County today to highlight the dangers of Xylazine, which caused 59 fatal overdoses in Monroe County last year, and is suspected in 10 recent deaths in Wayne County. Schumer is joined by Wayne County Sheriff Rob Milby and other officials during a news conference this afternoon at Lakeview Community Services’ Woodland Commons in Macedon.

Press Release, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer

MACEDON – Standing with local law enforcement and health leaders, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today revealed his three-pronged plan to combat the horrific rise in Xylazine, a deadly, skin-rotting zombie drug, also known as ‘Tranq,’ that is fueling a new wave of overdoses and deaths heading towards Rochester and spreading across the Finger Lakes.

“Upstate New York is seeing a dramatic rise in Xylazine, a horrific skin rotting zombie drug, plaguing our streets, overwhelming law enforcement and causing serious concern because it is Narcan resistant, putting lives at greater risk,” Schumer said.

The senator explained that Upstate communities cannot fight the scourge of this dangerous drug on streets alone and is calling for a major boost in federal support to combat drug trafficking and this public health crisis.

First, Schumer said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to accelerate its operations to track down illicit sources of Xylazine that are plaguing Northeast, and Upstate New York in particular, to cut off supply that is flooding New York streets.

Second, the senator detailed his new push to supercharge the federal COPS Hiring Program with nearly $537 million in new funds to help stop drug trafficking in its tracks.

Third, Schumer said we need an all-of-the-above approach to treat the overdose crisis, and said he is calling for new boosts to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) appropriations, including grants that can be used to fund testing infrastructure for Xylazine.

“The feds need to accelerate their efforts to crack down on this drug illegally being shipped from overseas and unlawfully making its way onto the streets of Rochester, Wayne County, and communities across New York,” Schumer said. “In far too many communities, including the Finger Lakes, the pandemic has made opioid addiction and its health impacts worse, and Xylazine could make this growing problem even more deadly which is why we need the feds to step up now.”

Schumer explained that although Xylazine is a sedative most commonly used as an animal tranquilizer by veterinarians, the deadly drug is now finding its way onto Upstate streets through illicit sources.

He said that these dangerous drug deals are contaminating opioids like fentanyl, heroine, and cocaine with Xylazine, which has the ability to compound the effects of opioids and has led to countless overdoses and deaths in Upstate NY. This dangerous drug is right on the doorstep of the Finger Lakes and has already been identified in several local communities.

Xylazine has been a contributing factor in fatal overdoses across Monroe County for years, with over 180 deaths tied to the lethal drug since 2019. Out of 22 deaths that were directly attributed to drug overdoses in nearby Wayne County last year, 3 deaths were directly tied to usage of Xylazine in conjunction with other opiates and Xylazine is suspected in up to 10 fatal overdoses now under investigation in Wayne County. This deadly drug, which is already at large in Central NY and responsible for over 40 overdoses this month alone.

“Law enforcement working together in tandem with our partners in medicine, prevention, and recovery,” said Monroe County Sheriff Todd K. Baxter. “Xylazine powder can be purchased for prices ranging from $6-$20 per kilo. At a price that low, drug trafficking organizations and dealers use this dangerous drug to reduce the amount of fentanyl or heroin used in a mixture, prolonging the effects of the drugs, while increasing profits. As those dealing this poison change their tactics, so must we in our response to this crisis which is why I appreciate the Senator’s push. Lives depend on it.”