Joliet Women Who Claim to be 1st 'Crocodile' Drug Victims Go Public

Two women who say they are the first treated for symptoms associated with the ghastly drug "crocodile" revealed their stories and their wounds.

Amber Neitzel unwraps her bandages to show the gaping, rank wound on her calf. Credit: Joseph Hosey
Amber Neitzel unwraps her bandages to show the gaping, rank wound on her calf. Credit: Joseph Hosey

Most of the rose tattooed on Amber Neitzel’s left calf has rotted off, but she knows the damage could have been much worse for her if she hadn’t been treated for the flesh-eating drug she said caused the gaping, rank wounds on her body.

“I was doing this drug for a year and a half and didn’t even know it,” said Neitzel, who along with her sister, Angie Neitzel, say they were the first to be treated for the horror-movie drug "crocodile” at Joliet’s Presence St. Joseph Medical Center.

Amber Neitzel, 26, said she has been doing heroin for 10 years. She, her 29-year-old sister and their mother, Kim Neitzel, 48, another heroin user, said they went public to alert others to the dangers of crocodile.

"If you don’t got sores on the outside of your body, it don’t mean it don’t got a hold of you," Kim Neitzel warned. "It’s going after your organs."

VIDEO: Watch Amber Neitzel tell the story of her drug abuse.

Crocodile is a heroin substitute concocted by combining codeine tablets and gasoline, paint thinner, lighter fluid or other substances. It ravages the skin of users, according to a press release from St. Joseph’s.

The drug "destroys a user’s flesh and leaves gangrene and large abscesses all over a user's body," the release stated.

“You get it from users in the city,” said Amber, who along with her sister and mother told of buying what they believed to be heroin in Chicago. Kim Neitzel said she herself was stricken by crocodile without knowing but underwent surgery. Months after the procedure, she remains disfigured.

Presence Health spokeswoman Angela Benander could not be reached immediately for comment on whether any of the Neitzels were treated at St. Joseph.

Crocodile only recently appeared in Illinois, with five known patients going to Joliet’s St. Joseph.

The drug, also spelled krokodil, “originally appeared in Russia in 2003, where availability and distribution of heroin is problematic,” the hospital’s release said. “In the past few weeks, cases have been reported in Utah and Arizona. The patients admitted to PSJMC are the first known cases in Illinois.”

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is still trying to track down the supposed source of crocodile in Illinois.

“The DEA is very concerned about the recent news that several patients who were treated at Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet had symptoms consistent with the use of the drug" crocodile, Jack Riley, special agent-in-charge of the DEA's Chicago Field Division, said in a recent statement.

"Our agents and task force officers are on the street canvassing the area, and trying to track down any leads," Riley said. "We want to be pro-active and get out ahead of the curve on this, but until we can get our hands on the drugs and people who are trafficking in it, we won’t know the extent of what we’re dealing with."

None of the Neitzels suspected they were shooting a Russian knock-off drug instead of the heroin they have used for years. But the intense high from what they were buying made it seem like a bargain.

“I know it was good,” Amber Neitzel said. “I’m not going to lie. I’ve sold (heroin) before. I wouldn’t buy it if it wasn’t good.”

dollydaggero5 October 14, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Really? Claims to be? Wow...what a great thing THAT is.
Henry Sadowski October 14, 2013 at 06:41 PM
Who cares what happens to useless junkies. If they can't pay for treatment they should be left to rot. Why should taxpayers foot the medical bills for these wastes of space.
fit4ufor3rd October 14, 2013 at 06:54 PM
this is the least of her problems
Paul October 14, 2013 at 07:57 PM
Darwin wins again.
Mary Lou Miller October 14, 2013 at 11:19 PM
I already left a comment, in fact, a 3 paragraph comment, as I know these people. However, it never uploaded and I don't know where it went.
Mary Lou Miller October 14, 2013 at 11:52 PM
Well, this is now my 3rd attempt at posting! It keeps going poof! I, too, know this family. My daughter met Angie. I made her see the video...not that she needed to see it, but to drive home the message of NOT even TRYING a drug, not even once. Kim took Amber (the youngest, 26) out of grade school when she was 13. If Kim was asked why her kid was out of school, she would simply state that she was "home" schooled. Kim and her two daughters smoked pot, took pain pills, and it was Amber who introduced the family to heroin. She was 15. This family lived on the street. When they took heroin, they were quickly hooked. This family is sick. I could blame the mother at this point, which I did, but her sick mind did not function like people who don't do drugs. I truly believe that the system failed. I don't blame DCFS, as Kim took her kids to Indiana when they were on her trail. It ended there. When the "coast was clear", she returned to IL. All of the comments that blame these people, call this family names, do not realize the hold that heroin has on a person AFTER THE FIRST USE! I truly believe that the use of opiods, found in prescription pain meds, made it easy to transition to heroin. If heroin isn't used daily, the addict suffers horrible pain and the pain is what drives them to do things they would not normally do.
Mary Lou Miller October 15, 2013 at 12:10 AM
What you don't know is this: Amber and Angie have 3 children each, all under the age of 8. Angie's 3 are with a relative that already has 4 kids! I believe Amber's kids are in foster care. When I first saw the news, then saw the pics and comments this family posted, I was mad. Upon further thought, anyone who comments that these people deserve what they are in now, hasn't a clue outside their "little world". This is a SICKNESS. Their brains are already affected and they don't even have the wherewithall to even inquire about rehab! They don't think like non-drug users think. They can't. Their brains are damaged. Who knows what drives people to begin to take drugs. I believe it is to escape the pain of their lives. After taking drugs, their brains are so altered that they cannot help themselves. Does this mean we shouldn't show compassion for them? All they were seeking this whole time was to feel "okay". Without this drug, they would be in horrible pain. It is no wonder that they steal, hurt their friends, steal from anyone and everyone, sell everything but the shirt off their back in order to get their hands on the drug so that they can get some relief. This is all they know. Where is their next fix going to come from? I would compare it to a dying cancer patient with no pain relief. This is MY opinion. What I do know is this. Why not take this time to teach our own children about what can happen if they even "TRY" drugs? I think that this family should make a documentary and it should be shown all over the world. Everyone is concerned about our tax dollars going for their treatment, yet why not invest in a documentary that could be a teaching tool to every single child? What is done is done. These people have suffered more than anyone we will ever know. Instead of blaming them, why not use them to educate? They are not long for this world, so why not take this opportunity to prevent this disease from afflicting your child, sister, cousin, neighbor or anyone else? It is ignorant to only insult and comment about money at this point. Let's use this opportunity to educate. What a better way to drive home that by even "trying" drugs can get one hooked? Who's in?
Mary Lou Miller October 15, 2013 at 12:15 AM
jo.....and your way of dealing with this is only to blame? What if it was YOUR sister, YOUR child? What have you added in the way of helping the community with such ignorant comments? Sure it is a choice, at first! It is no longer a choice after that. Educate yourself before you speak next time.
Mary Lou Miller October 15, 2013 at 12:17 AM
Hey Harry, what if you are a waste of space?????? Certainly a waste of posting!
Mary Lou Miller October 15, 2013 at 12:20 AM
Henry, not Harry, not much difference when it comes to wasted space.
Mary Lou Miller October 15, 2013 at 12:30 AM
This post is directed at Jim Brasher. It is apparent that you don't know what you are talking about. An addict doesn't "choose" to become addicted. Look up the facts. Also, whoever states that it is a choice, how many of you have made bad choices in your lives? To use for the first time is a longing to escape a past experience(s) and pain. You have NEVER walked a day in their shoes, and to hold yourself as someone better than anyone else is so wrong. I bet that all of the insulting comments come from Republicans!
Leslie Mccormick October 15, 2013 at 12:49 AM
omg MARY LOU MILLER They did choose to be a addict the first time they tried a drug U need to look up the facts if they would not of taken the drug in the first place they would be a drug addicted dumbass and what makes u think that something putting this in your arm or smoking it or what ever u do with it,Crocodile is a heroin substitute concocted by combining codeine tablets and gasoline, paint thinner, lighter fluid or other substances. Oh hell yeah sounds like a smart idea omg what turnip truck did u fall off of?
Leslie Mccormick October 15, 2013 at 01:00 AM
Somewhere Here October 15, 2013 at 01:28 AM
Mary Lou... You defend these 3 women so well. Why are their children in foster care and not with you? Since you are such a dear friend. WHY have you as a dear friend you are, not had intervention for any of them? You can run your mouth so loosely on here to defend them, but YOU don't help them. At ANYTIME one can CHOOSE not to do drugs. I have met a couple EX Heroin Addicts... READ the WORD... EX... You know how they stopped? Because they had family and FRIENDS who cared enough to help BUT overall they themselves made the CHOICE. Bad life or not NO EXCUSE.. Alcoholism is in my family and physical abuse.. I grew up as being physically and verbally abused by a drunk mother not to mention molested as well. I had a bad life. 36 years old. 3 children of my OWN. I do not touch alcohol nor do I do drugs and FOR SURE do not beat my children or pets or anyone else. It's called CHOICE.. As an individual, You know what is RIGHT and what is WRONG. So, to say you don't know what they have gone through. is a bunch of BULLSH*T. Excuses Excuses Excuses.. What a waste of electricity to run this HYPES story and to say she SOLD... So since she was a user since 15 and has 3 children now. What is the complications to the poor children with a junkie mother??? So sad for the children because foster care or not, that is another 3 children that will need help for the rest of their lives.. You know what's funny is courts force mentally handicap people to get fixed but leave the junkies to keep reproducing... That is logical.. Considering the mentally handicap have more respect and are more responsible and love more then the junkies..
henry eroh October 15, 2013 at 08:28 AM
If they are stupid enough to do this crap well suffer the consequenses- sad they do drugs - you have decisions to make in life and people in life like this really f--k it up- def should not be reproducing
Igor October 15, 2013 at 08:45 AM
Funny how they can never find money for housing and electricity but always money for drugs. Did someone put a gun to their heads and force them to take drugs? Now they want people to feel sorry for them. Sorry there's a lot of people out there with problems that they never caused. Them I feel sorry for.
The Reckoning October 15, 2013 at 10:42 AM
Did someone actually say, "they could be somewhere doing heroin safely"? I did read that correctly, right"? How exactly "do heroin safely" when it consumes your life, makes you incapable of taking care of your children (which apparently we are taking care of hers), and can KILL YOU. The good thing is that it thins out the herd, and gives us future candidates for the Darwin Awards.
KM October 15, 2013 at 11:22 AM
These are wasted lives. Why spend taxpayers' money on helping these wasted lives? These are the people who don't want to do menial labor to earn a living and they laugh at those people who do menial labor. Why aren't they incarcerated????
Rig Perez October 15, 2013 at 11:45 AM
They are not victims. They chose to use it. Looking at them they clearly place no value on their own body anyway. They are looking for some sort of pay out.
Noelle Wright October 15, 2013 at 01:44 PM
First and foremost, if you are going to report on a drug, know the correct spelling: krokodil - this drug first started in Russia. Vice did a doc on it and it is absoulity HORRIBLE!!!!
Anna October 15, 2013 at 03:09 PM
Mary Lou, drug education has become an industry in itself. Drug education was around before Nancy Reagan said 'Just say no.' Where have you been that you've managed to be unaware of that?
Holly Mullikin October 15, 2013 at 05:56 PM
I did not go on anything looking 4 sympathy. All I was trying to do was worn people who do use about this flesh eating disease!!!!
Holly Mullikin October 15, 2013 at 05:56 PM
This is amber by the way
Johnni October 15, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Mary and Amber..........really???..............First of all people who dont do drugs dont have much respect for people who do. It doesnt matter how hard or tough or any other EXCUSE you can create for someone who does drugs. Choice.........Choose.......Chose..........to do drugs is where it began. I had a rough life too, drugs were available to me, to sell, to use, and what-not. I chose to sell for a lil while just like I chose to stop selling before I got caught. I hate when people try to use SICKNESS as a cover-up for WEAKNESS. Some people just give up on life because its easier. Easier to get sympathy for their situation.
Igor October 16, 2013 at 08:02 AM
Sorry Mary Lou I reserve my sympathy for people that do not bring on their own problems. These people knowingly used drugs. Like cigarettes everyone knows the dangers and pitfalls, if you still choose to use either then don't come crying when sh*t hits the fans.
Brittany October 16, 2013 at 08:17 AM
John Roberts October 16, 2013 at 09:06 AM
Just listen to you all..lmao..Your education on drugs is for shit..Some people if not most people do drugs "because they want to"..ask a stoner why he smokes...Your not going to hear this boo Hoo mommy and daddy crap...Kids who have parents that are holly rollers used drugs,some parents use drugs with their kids,and some get drugs from their kids...Not everyone that uses is because of some bull shit life story...To some people Drugs are just Fun to do...Some people don't want to get off drugs...ask a stoner if he "wants"to put down his joint or be skipped in rotation....some of you crack me up...So your saying that if your kids get on drugs it's because they "had a rough life"...that you provided for them?...bullshit..people do,try drugs because they are available..and they alter the state of mind from the normal bill crap that goes on...not everyone had a rough life and looking for a "way out" crap...button up your emotions and get back to reality....Drugs are drugs...it does things to your body that you can not get from anything else...just like your headache...That is a "Natural"thing for your head to hurt...But you still take drugs to alter it....what is your medication,your Tylenol?....it's a drug....and them too can be altered to change what they do...wake up people quit with this boo Hoo crap...People do drugs because they like the effect and the change from the norm...
John Roberts October 16, 2013 at 09:17 AM
@ the reckoning....safely...means somewhere away from the public....safely away from your kids and family,safely away from traffic,safely away from causing others harm...safely away from others...safely away using clean needles,safely away not spreading disease,safely away not contaminating.....Yeah you can be a safe user...Just like millions out there that you will never know use..and have been for years and years..but still partake in everyday things like work,family...weather you all want to believe it or not...There are functioning drug users...some of your own friends have probably been shooting up for years and you don't even know....And it's nice how everyone takes a comment warning you and bashes the messenger...you all should check out documentaries done by regular people with no interests in companies...Drug users..and you will see Most of the violence,altering drugs,new drugs..comes from going after the drugs already in place..Bust heroin? Krokodil comes in,bust marijuana? K2 came right in,?..the worse violence comes form having to afford these drugs....in countries where it is regulated the drug violence has almost completely stopped and heroin use is almost obsolete when it was in full effect when the programs started....Its the whole "you can't have it so I want it mentallity"...it's called being a human...
Stephen Wheeler October 23, 2013 at 10:37 AM
Sad. I've known productive people who have maintained on heroin for years. Obviously, they knew that they had a problem; but to think that they might unwittingly buy this stuff and suffer the consequences is horrifying. I don't defend this family. They are an obvious train wreck to begin with and I'd lay odds that not a single one of them is a productive member of society, but no one deserves to suffer wounds like they have if they were using the drug unwittingly. Hopefully, they will get their acts together before they are all dead. And by the way Mary Lou, since you were foolish enough to introduce politics into this: it is Democrat social policy that enables and encourages this sort of behavior. Anyone who thinks that "progressive" governance is caring or compassionate is too ignorant to separate what "progressives" do from what they say. Show me any slum, and I'll show you a place where Dems are in charge.
Bill Durks October 25, 2013 at 05:56 AM
White trash. Join a bowling team.


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