Police: Investigators seeing lethal street drug gray death ‘more and more’

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A 27-year-old Raleigh man faces a series of felony drug charges after he was caught with the drug known as “gray death,” warrants show.

Ricky Daniel Angelini was arrested Tuesday after police said he had gray death and other drugs in a Cadillac Escalade, warrants show.

Gray death is a combination of heroin, fentanyl, the synthetic opioid U-47700 and the drug Carfentanil, which is used as an elephant tranquilizer, according to the World Health Organization.

Angelini was in possession of two baggies of gray death totaling 1.3 grams, a hypodermic needle and a glass pipe, warrants say.

He also had cocaine while at the Wake County Detention Center, court documents say.

Angelini was charged with:

  • Felony possession of a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver
  • Felony possession of cocaine
  • Felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance
  • Felony possession of a controlled substance on jail premises
  • Misdemeanor simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance
  • Misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia

He’s being held on a $30,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Gray death can appear like a concrete mix and varies in consistency from a hard, chunky material to a fine powder, CBS News reports.

“Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis,” said Deneen Kilcrease, manager of the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, told CBS News.

The drug can be absorbed through the skin but can be swallowed, injected, smoked or snorted.

Eric Curry, spokesman for the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, said the drug is something that investigators are seeing “more and more.”

The Drug Enforcement Agency made U-47700 a Schedule I substance in 2016, citing 46 confirmed deaths in the United States linked to the drug. Among those deaths, the DEA says 10 occurred in North Carolina.

Jeffrey Hammerstein, spokesman for Wake County EMS, says it can be more difficult to help people who overdose on drug combinations like gray death.

“There are much more powerful combinations of drugs that are out there. That’s the thing about anything that’s considered a street drug, is that you don’t ever necessarily know exactly what you’re getting,” he said.

Paramedics are equipped with naloxone, which has the ability to reverse the effects of an overdose.

Hammerstein said it can sometimes take two or three doses of naloxone to successfully help someone begin to breathe again who’s experiencing an overdose.

“When someone overdoses and they go unconscious and then stop breathing, there’s not much time before their heart will then stop because it’s going without oxygenated blood,” he said.

He said last year Wake County EMS began a program to connect users with recovery and treatment programs and follow up with them as well.

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