The landscape of drug law enforcement changes often as new drug threats continuously emerge throughout the world. Domestic and international drug traffickers cleverly attempt to conceal their methods, hindering the ability to identify the drugs they are distributing nationwide. Many of these emerging deadly drugs are so new, they are not easily identified by officers in the field. 

Therein lies the problem for narcotic investigators. In recent times, the flood of new drugs have included new fentanyl analogs. To increase the demand by users, the length of the high, and profits for the drug cartels, their fentanyl is now mixed with cocaine, methamphetamine and xylazine, also known as ‘Tranq.’  

There has been a dramatic increase of drug evidence seized nationwide which contains both fentanyl and xylazine. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Xylazine related overdose deaths have increased as much as 1,127% in some regions of the country. In areas less affected by Xylazine, overdoses have still risen by 100-500%.1 

Xylazine, a sedative and analgesic drug commonly used in veterinary medicine, has been increasingly used illegally in the United States, particularly in combination with opioids. Its potency, low cost, and availability have made it an attractive option for drug users seeking a cheap high. Xylazine is particularly dangerous because naloxone (commonly known as the brand name, Narcan), which is administered in opioid overdoses, is not effective in reversing Xylazine’s impact on one’s breathing. 

The lack of appropriate technology to identify these new drug threats in the field is a challenge for law enforcement. Without the ability to identify seized drugs real-time, the investigations are often stalled in their tracks until lab results are returned from a forensic laboratory.  

The MX908 portable mass spectrometer helps investigators meet the challenges they face daily with the identification of new drugs, such as xylazine, in the field. With the ability to identify drugs at trace/nanogram levels, the MX908 provides coverage of low concentration mixtures of powerful synthetics such as xylazine and 2000+ fentanyl analogs in cutting agents or other, more common, drugs to provide investigators with an important tool to meets today’s counter-drug challenges.   

For information on how to obtain grants for justifying and purchasing an MX908 unit using grant funding please contact us at [email protected]. Grant assistance includes use of opioid settlement funding, locally available grants, as well as state and federal grants. 

Blog Authors:
Ernie Batista- DEA ASAC (Retired), Counter-Narcotic Consultant 
Joe Gallo- Product Marketing Manager