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Russian Drug 'Krokodil' Found In Will County

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 10, 2013 7:20PM

If you read stories about the drug epidemic in Russia you wouldn’t be faulted for wondering if that nation is one giant version of Breaking Bad’s Albuquerque. One drug in particular, the morphine derivative desomorphine, is infamous for the effects it has on its users besides the high it provides.

Desomorphine has been around since the 1930s but this particular variety is feared because it can include gasoline, paint thinner or lighter fluid mixed with coedine and isn't removed during the mixing process. So yeah, you have drug users injecting gasoline into their veins.

Street-grade desomorphine is nicknamed “krokodil” because it causes the skin of its users to rot and develop a scaly, reptilian appearance, and the threat of it reaching America has been real for at least a couple years. The first cases in the country were reported last week in Arizona and Utah. Now krokodil may be in the Chicago area.

Both NBC 5 and ABC 7 reported three patients at St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet were treated recently with symptoms similar to users of krokodil. St. Joseph’s Dr. Abhin Singla said all three patients admitted to using krokodil.

“It is a horrific way to get sick," he said. "The smell of rotten flesh permeates the room. Intensive treatment and skin grafts are required, but they often are not enough to save limbs or lives.”

One reason krokodil is popular with drug users is because it’s significantly cheaper than heroin. The Herald-News reports a hit of krokodil costs $8 versus the $25-$30 for a hit of heroin. Singla said he voiced his concerns to the Drug Enforcement Administration but neither they nor Joliet Police were aware of any cases.

The three patients treated by Singla were all middle class women between the ages of 18 and 25. Two of them had no idea of the drug they were taking.