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.”

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.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »