‘Gray death’ making its way into Cincinnati suburbs

Warren County authorities are holding one suspect in connection with an overdose death involving a drug mixture known as “gray death.”

Detectives from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office investigating a heroin overdose found Joseph J. Krouse, 33, dead from an apparent overdose at 652 Quail Lake Drive in Deerfield Twp.

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After speaking with witnesses at the home, it was discovered Krouse apparently overdosed on “gray death,” a deadly combination of heroin, carfentanil and fentanyl.

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Bobby Singleton III, 34, of Mason, who allegedly sold the drugs to Krouse, was arrested and charged with one count of trafficking in drugs and one count of possession of drugs, both felonies.

Butler County law enforcement said it has not yet encountered “gray death,” but the new drug has invaded Cincinnati, according to Hamilton County Coroner’s Office spokesman Terry Daley.

“It’s been coming in for months,” Daley said.

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Daley said both “gray death” and a powerful opiate known as U-47700 have the same compounds. Officers seized two pounds of U-47700 in March — one pound during a traffic stop; the other from a shipment coming from Hong Kong, drug enforcement agents said.

No one in Hamilton County has died from a U-47700 overdose, but the drug made headlines after medical examiners found a combination of fentanyl and U-47700 in Prince’s system after he overdosed in April 2016.

With a possible fatal overdose now reported in Warren County, officials worry “gray death” could contribute to the region’s already-crippling heroin epidemic.

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Drug overdose deaths in Ohio have increased by 72 percent since 2011. Drug overdoses also were the leading cause of deaths in 2016 in Butler County, according to the coroner’s office.

Sgt. Mike Hackney, of the Butler Undercover Regional Narcotics Unit, said agents are aware of “gray death” but have not yet seen it in Butler County.

Singleton could face an additional charge after the victim’s toxicology results are known. He is currently being held in the Warren County Jail without bond.

Staff writer Lauren Pack and Journal-News media partner WCPO contributed to this report.

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