On Friday, around 1pm, US Senator Chuck Schumer made a stop in Cortland County at the Cortland County Sheriff’s Public Safety Building on Greenbush Street in the City of Cortland.
Chuck Schumer was joined by Sheriff Mark Helms, Cortland Mayor Scott Steve, Cortland County Mental Health Dept. Director of Community Services Sharon MacDougall, and others to speak on the deadly skin-rotting zombie drug, Xylazine.
Schumer spoke that the drug though, is not a new creation by illicit drug makers, but has been in existence for years prior, but for a different use:
“Now this drug (Xylazine) is not a new drug. It’s always been used as a sedative for animals or horses or large animals by veterinarians, but it was never sold as an illicit drug. Doing such harm to people.” Schumer said during the press conference.
The drug has been mixed with fentanyl and is slowly making its way in Cortland and Onondaga Counties, with a wave of overdoses and deaths across the area. Xylazine has been linked to dozens of overdoses in Central New York, including 40 in Onondaga County in the previous week and two deaths. The drug is Narcan resistant as it is not an opioid.
“I appreciate Senator Schumer for coming to Cortland County to help raise awareness about xylazine,” said Cortland County Sheriff Mark E. Helms. “I don’t think people realize quite how dangerous this drug is. Small communities like Cortland are often the last place the public expects to see a new drug take hold. Most of the public has never even heard of xylazine, but it’s important that they know it’s already here.”
During the press conference, Schumer revealed his three-pronged plan to stop the flow of the drug to help Cortland, Onondaga and the rest of Central New York stay safe. Schumer is asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to accelerate their operation to track down illicit sources of the drug and cut off the supply that is making its way through the country, including Central New York.
He also is working to provide $537 million dollars in new funds to supercharge the federal COPS Hiring Program to stop drug trafficking in its place and the third part of the plan is an “all of the above” approach to treat the overdose crisis. The approach to treat the overdoses is a call for new boosts to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) appropriations, including grants to be used to test for Xylazine.
“We want to save lives. We care about everyone in our Cortland community”, said Cortland County Mental Health Department Director of Community Services Sharon MacDougall. “Xylazine presents such safety a risk; worsened and often fatal when mixed with other drugs.”
Xylazine, which is a sedative used as an animal tranquilizer for large animals by veterinarians, is coming to the area through illicit sources. Drug dealers then mix the drug with fentanyl and heroin. Those who regularly use Xylazine mixed will develop severe, deep wounds with dead and rotting skin around injection sites, with the skin eventually falling right off the body. Untreated wounds typically lead to amputation.