‘Crazy dangerous’ drug used on elephants put teen in hospital
A Kansas City man arrested after a Grain Valley teenager overdosed on a “crazy dangerous” synthetic opioid drug pleaded guilty to a federal charge Tuesday.
Gage S. Lankas pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Kansas City to possession with the intent to distribute carfentanil, a drug that experts say is far more potent than fentanyl, heroin or morphine.
Authorities began investigating Lankas in August 2017 after a 17-year-old Grain Valley resident had to be rushed to a hospital after a drug overdose.
The teen later told police that he thought the pill he had crushed and snorted was oxycodone.
“He indicated he immediately blacked out and does not remember anything except waking up and passing out again in an ambulance,” according to Lankas’ written plea agreement.
The teen told police that he was surprised by his reaction because he had snorted oxycodone previously.
But later testing showed that the pill he ingested and others like it recovered from his home were actually carfentanil, according to court documents.
The drug is used to tranquilize large mammals like elephants and horses. And in a warning to law officers around the country, the Drug Enforcement Administration has described it as “crazy dangerous.”
A dose of carfentanil is about 100 times as potent as the same dose of fentanyl and 5,000 times more powerful than the same amount of heroin.
“It has no legitimate medical purpose for human beings,” said William J. Callahan III, special agent in charge of the DEA office in St. Louis.
Callahan said DEA agents across the country have seen an increase in seizures of carfentanil that is being used for illicit purposes.
As in the local case, it is often distributed as something else, such as oxycodone. As a result, people have no idea what they are taking.
“The results can be deadly,” he said.
After the Grain Valley teen recovered, he identified Lankas from a photo lineup. He said he had met Lankas in Westport and bought pills that he thought were oxycodone.
A few days after the teen’s overdose, Kansas City police were called to a midtown apartment building to investigate a domestic disturbance involving Lankas and his girlfriend.
Inside the apartment, police found pills like the ones seized at the scene of the Grain Valley incident, according to the documents.
Those also tested positive for carfentanil. A safe containing $6,583 was also found.
Lankas told investigators that he had bought the drugs on the dark web.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and remains in custody. A sentencing date has not been set.