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Press Release

Norfolk Man Charged with Distributing Fentanyl and “Tranq” Mixture, Known as the Zombie Drug

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

NORFOLK, Va. – A federal grand jury indicted a Norfolk man today on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute Fentanyl mixed with Xylazine, opening two drug-involved premises, possession with intent to distribute Fentanyl mixed with Xylazine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and being a convicted felon in possession of firearms. 

According to allegations in the indictment, on or about February 17, 2023, William Griggs, 54, operated two drug-involved houses in the City of Norfolk where he stored and packaged fentanyl mixed with Xylazine for distribution in Norfolk, and stored and packaged cocaine.

Xylazine, also known as “Tranq,” is a powerful sedative that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved for veterinary use only. Xylazine and fentanyl drug mixtures place users at a higher risk of suffering a fatal drug poisoning. People who inject drug mixtures containing Xylazine also can develop severe wounds, including necrosis—the rotting of human tissue—that may lead to amputation. The combination is referred to on the street as the “Zombie” drug.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently issued a public safety alert warning the American public of a sharp increase in the trafficking of Fentanyl mixed with Xylazine and the drug’s deadly effects. The FDA also published an alert to health care providers about the risks to patients exposed to Xylazine in illicit drugs.

If convicted of the allegations, Griggs faces up to life in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge for the DEA Washington Division; and Mark Talbot, Chief of Norfolk Police, made the announcement after the grand jury returned an Indictment. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin M. Comstock is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:23-cr-60.

An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Updated May 3, 2023

Drug Trafficking