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Deputies: Man caught with dangerous 'Gray Death' synthetic drug

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This bag of Gray Death, a combination drug stronger than heroin, was seized during a Nash County traffic stop last week.
This bag of Gray Death, a combination drug stronger than heroin, was seized during a Nash County traffic stop last week.
Contributed photo

Authorities arrested a man previously charged with murder after they say they caught him last week with a powerful narcotic called Gray Death.

Desmond Nayquan King, 26, of University Drive in Durham, faces two counts of trafficking opiates, speeding to elude arrest and maintaining a vehicle for a controlled substance. He received a $800,000 secured bond. 

“King has an extensive criminal history. During his short criminal career, he has been charged more than 50 times with various drug, weapons, robbery and even first-degree murder charges,” said Maj. Eddie Moore of the Nash County Sheriff’s Office.

Police in Roanoke Rapids charged King, along with several others, with murder in the shooting death of Wilton Cotton in 2014. The disposition of that case wasn’t immediately clear.

King’s most recent arrest began as a traffic stop. A member of the Nash County Sheriff’s Office Joint Criminal Apprehension Team pulled over a vehicle for a traffic violation on Interstate 95 near mile marker 142 around 4 p.m. Sept. 23. Deputies later identified King as the driver, Moore said. 

The vehicle pulled into the parking lot of the southbound rest area. When the deputy exited his cruiser, the vehicle sped away. The vehicle reached a speed of 120 mph on I-95 before exiting off the interstate onto U.S. 64 westbound. The vehicle then pulled over and the driver surrendered. 

Deputies returned to the rest area parking lot and found a plastic bag containing 24 grams of a drug the suspect allegedly threw from the vehicle.

The narcotic product with the street name “Gray Death” is reported to be an illicit combination of powerful and dangerous opioid drugs that’s led to several fatal overdoses in the U.S. The designer, synthetic drug is said to be many more times potent than heroin, Moore said.

Gray Death is blamed for deaths in Alabama, Georgia and Ohio. The combination drug includes heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and a synthetic opioid called U-47700, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Gray Death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis,” Deneen Kilcrease, manager of the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, told the Associated Press.

People using the drug are not aware of its ingredients or their concentrations. Simply touching the powder can put a person at risk, Kilcrease said.

Gray Death looks like concrete mix. It varies in consistency from a hard, chunky material to a fine powder. People use the drug by injection, swallowing, smoking or snorting it.

“These are the types of criminals that our agency has focused on getting off the streets. It falls right in line with our proactive approach to gangs, guns and drugs,” said Sheriff Keith Stone.