Northeast Tarrant

Keller man arrested, accused of delivering dangerous synthetic opioid

Keller police have confirmed that one of the drugs seized in a home in March was the new synthetic drug, U-47700.
Keller police have confirmed that one of the drugs seized in a home in March was the new synthetic drug, U-47700.

A Keller man was back in jail Wednesday after police say that some drugs confiscated in his home tested positive for the new dangerous substance U-47700.

Police seized an estimated 100 grams of U-4770 in March after responding to a call at a residence in the 1300 block of Briar Ridge Drive.

In addition to the designer drug U-47700, police seized LSD, methamphetamine, so-called bath salts, ecstasy, marijuana, oxycodone and Xanax.

Police arrested Steven King, 45, the homeowner, at the time after two people became ill at the residence and officers were dispatched. He was arrested on drug manufacturing charges and later posted bail.

“Initial testing in the field indicated that there were some illegal drugs in the home,” police Capt. Tommy Simmons said Wednesday. “The drugs were sent to labs for testing and investigators got the results a few days ago.”

Police rearrested King Friday, and he now faces six charges of manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance. He was in the Keller Jail on Wednesday with bail set at $525,000.

Simmons described the drug U-47700 as one of the “new dangerous drugs on the street.”

“We had to call the DEA to assist us with the drug because we knew very little about it,” Simmons said.

Simmons warned parents and others about the dangers of taking it. U-47700, which is a white powder that users might mistake for cocaine. It can be injected or snorted.

“We’re told this drug is seven times stronger than morphine,” Simmons said.

The drug, developed by the pharmaceutical company Upjohn, was determined to be stronger than morphine in previous animal tests, according to the North Texas Poison Control Center based at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

Officials with the poison center said they receive calls daily from North Texas hospitals about synthetic opioids.

Opioids act on the central nervous system. They include substances derived from the opium poppy as well as semisynthetic and synthetic chemicals such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. Medically, their primary use is relieving pain.

Heroin is also a semisynthetic agent.

Opioids can depress breathing, which is typically the way people who overdose on heroin die, Schulte said. Respiratory depression is a big concern with U-47700, which appears to work faster than heroin.

Drug overdose deaths involving prescription synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl and Tramadol and street synthetics nearly doubled from 2013 to 2014, according to a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

Just a few days ago, authorities released information that Prince died from an overdose of Fentanyl.

Since 2000, the number of opioid overdose deaths overall has increased 200 percent, the report stated.

In March, the Health and Human Services Department said it was giving $94 million in grants to health centers nationwide to focus on treating opioid use in underserved populations.

Texas health centers receiving grants are in Cotulla, El Paso, Houston and Port Arthur.

Fort Worth, Dallas, Denton and Arlington police have reported that they’ve seen little or no activity related to the synthetic opioid.

In an interview with the Star-Telegram earlier this year, Dr. Alan Podawiltz, chairman of psychiatry at John Peter Smith Hospital and the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, said groups of people end up in the psych emergency room at JPS based on “hot spot” batches of synthetic drugs.

Though he did not talk specifically about U-47700, he said users of synthetic drugs, who range in age from their teens to 60s, are all looking for an altered reality.

This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives and The Associated Press.

Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763, @mingoramirezjr

Questions?

In an emergency, or if you have any questions about a potential poisoning, Parkland Memorial Hospital recommends calling the Texas Poison Center Network at 800-222-1222, which is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For information about poison concerns, visit www.poisoncontrol.org.

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