Drug ‘Tranq’ cause for 4 SF overdose deaths

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A new illegal street drug known as “Tranq,” combined with fentanyl, has caused the deaths of four San Francisco residents.

According to DEA, Xylazine, also known as “Tranq,” is a non-opioid tranquilizer that is not FDA-approved for human use. Originally, it was used to tranquilize large livestock animals, such as cattle. 

“While xylazine has been circulating in the illicit drug supply on the East Coast of the United States for several years, SFDPH and OCME is seeing evidence of its presence in San Francisco for the first time,” the San Francisco Department of Public Health wrote Thursday. “Identifying xylazine in San Francisco is concerning.”

The four victims overdosed between mid-December 2022 and mid-January 2023. Toxicology tests have detected “Tranq” and fentanyl in their systems. 

“Tranq” is commonly mixed with fentanyl, heroin, and other illicit street drugs, according to the DEA.


Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.