CBSnews.com reports the drug looks like concrete mix and varies in consistency from a hard, chunky material to a fine powder.
It's a combination of several opioids that are tied to thousands of fatal overdoses in the U.S., including heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and a synthetic opioid called U-47700.
Gray death ingredients and their concentrations are unknown to users, and they can be particularly lethal, said Deneen Kilcrease, manager of the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. And because these strong drugs can be absorbed through the skin, simply touching the powder puts users at risk.
Gray death users inject, swallow, smoke or snort it. It has a much higher potency than heroin, according to a bulletin issued by the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, an organization based in Louisiana that works with law enforcement and intelligence agencies to reduce illegal drug trafficking and availability in a six-state area of the southern U.S.
In Ohio, the coroner's office that serves the Cincinnati area said a similar compound has been coming in for months. The Ohio Attorney General's Office has analyzed eight samples from around the state that match the gray death mixture.
Lorain County detective Jim Larkin told CBS affiliate KMTV heroin addicts are always chasing a stronger high, no matter the risks.
"It's amazing to me that they find out one of their friends died from an overdose from the drug and they immediately try to find out where he got it from because they want to try it too," Larkin said. "Why anybody — 'Hey here's some gray death,' but what do you think is going to happen to you? Why do you think it's called gray death?"