‘Tranq’, a drug linked to fatal overdoses and amputation, found in Fargo, police say

Xylazine has been linked to a rising number of fatal overdoses across the U.S., according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Fargo Police logo
The Fargo Police Department logo.
Special to The Forum

FARGO — A veterinary tranquilizer that is being mixed with fentanyl and has been linked to overdose deaths in humans has made its way into the Fargo area, police say.

The Fargo Police Department said in a social media post that xylazine, also called “tranq,” has been found in the area mixed with other drugs. The substance is a depressant that is often used in large animals like horses or cattle, but it has started to show up in illicit drugs, including fentanyl, police said. It is known to lengthen euphoric effects, the department said.

It is also commonly ingested by heroin and cocaine users, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Administering Narcan after an overdose does not address the impact that this drug has on breathing,” as xylazine is not an opioid, the police department said in the post.

The drug has been known to cause soft tissue injuries that may ultimately lead to amputations, according to the DEA. Users may also become dependent on xylazine, the DEA said.


Other side effects include "dry mouth, drowsiness, hypertension, and tachycardia followed by hypotension and bradycardia, hyperglycemia, reduced heart rate, hypothermia, coma, respiratory depression, and dysrhythmia," the federal agency said.

Xylazine has been linked to a rising number of fatal overdoses across the U.S., according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The federal agency said it doesn’t have a full picture on how many overdoses Xylazine causes each year, but East Coast states have seen a rapid increase.

“From 2015 to 2020, the percentage of all drug overdose deaths involving xylazine increased from 2% to 26% in Pennsylvania,” the institute said on its website. “Xylazine was involved in 19% of all drug overdose deaths in Maryland in 2021 and 10% in Connecticut in 2020.”

Of the 35 fatal overdoses in 2021 reported to the Fargo Police Department, 8.5% involved xylazine, according to the post. Numbers for 2022 were not available because the department was waiting on toxicology reports for some fatal overdoses from last year to be completed, a Fargo police spokesperson told The Forum.

“The Fargo Police Department reminds the public it is often impossible to know what kind of drugs are present in mixtures like you would find in illegal M30 pills — many of which are known to contain fatal doses of fentanyl,” the post said. “The rise of xylazine makes these mixtures even more dangerous.”

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
What To Read Next
Get Local