Report from the coroner's office in Montgomery County in Ohio has confirmed that a couple who was found dead by their children at their home in March this year died due to an overdose of cocaine and carfentanil, a powerful drug used to tranquilize big animals such as elephants and rhinos.
Found Dead By Their Four Children
The Spirit Airlines pilot and his wife were found in their Dayton-area home by their four children who then contacted the police.
The toxicology results backed up what the coroner's office previously suggested: 36-year-old Brian Halye, and his wife, 34-year-old Courtney Halye, died of an accidental drug overdose.
The fatal accident happened just a week after Brian's last flight, raising concern and criticism over the random system being used to test airline pilots.
Couple Injected The Drugs
Autopsy indicates that both husband and wife took the drug by injection. Needle puncture marks were found on Courtney's right thigh and left wrist, while Brian was found to have a needle puncture on the right arm.
Carfentanil is so powerful veterinarians use it to tranquilize animals as big as the elephant. Just 2 milligrams of this drug could knock out a 2,000-pound elephant.
The synthetic opioid is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and is 100 times stronger than fentanyl, the drug that killed popstar Prince in 2016. The drug significantly slows down breathing.
While it is greenlighted for use in sedating animals, the drug is not approved for use by humans.
It was not clear if the couple was aware that the cocaine they used contained carfentanil, but in earlier deaths linked to use of carfentanil, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said that the users may not have known that what they were taking contains the elephant sedative.
The drug is believed to have come from China and may have been brought to the United States via dark websites and drug cartels. Authorities also said that Mexican labs may have also been manufacturing this drug.
"We're talking about clandestinely manufactured. Somebody's making this stuff in secret laboratories," said Russ Baer of DEA.
Carfentanil As Substitute For Other Opioids
Investigators said that illegal traffickers have been substituting fentanyl for other opioids. Carfentanil may be sold pressed into prescription-looking drugs or mixed with heroin.
In Cincinnati, Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco earlier gave a warning to cocaine users that their stashes may possibly be cut with heroin or fentanyl.
Ohio is among the top places in the United States that are hardest hit by the drug epidemic. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that Ohio has the second most number of opioid-related death in 2014.
"DEA, local law enforcement and first responders have recently seen the presence of carfentanil, which has been linked to a significant number of overdose deaths in various parts of the country. Improper handling of carfentanil, as well as fentanyl and other fentanyl-related compounds, has deadly consequences," the DEA earlier warned.