Benjamin M. Wiegold
January 3, 2013

Desomorphine, a grotesque new drug known on the street as krokodil, has been making news for its increasing popularity as a cheap substitute for heroin, albeit with a devastating range of ill effects of its own. Reports allege that it originated in Siberia in 2002 and has become common in Russia and other Eastern European countries.

The name itself seems to corroborate this, krokodil is Russian for crocodile, and refers to the reptilian-like scales caused by the severe tissue damage from repeated use of this killer drug. For an addict, the life expectancy is less than two years.

Some sources dispute the prevalence of its use, arguing that the drug is not nearly as common as suggested. Special agent Jack Riley, the man in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Chicago office, said that “200 DEA agents in five states have made finding krokodil a top priority,” but that for everything discovered so far, “the lab tells us it’s just heroin.”

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