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Joliet Women Claiming to be 1st ‘crocodile’ Drug Victims Go Public

Two women claiming to be 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 it 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 said she has been doing heroin for 10 years. She, her sister and their mother, Kim Neitzel, 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."

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 said.

“You get it from users in the city,” said Amber, along with her sister and mother all 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 immediately reached for comment on whether any of the Neitzels were actually treated at St. Joseph.

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

The drug “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.”

Courtney Basile October 13, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Oh great! Yet another over-sensationalized story by Joe Hosey with completely disgusting n horrific pics to top it off. This guy is like an ambulance chaser- should work for the Enquirer.
Ed Mazan October 14, 2013 at 12:43 AM
Please don't refer to them as "victims", they did it to themselves.
Imanage October 14, 2013 at 05:45 AM
Maybe we should start a trust fund for these pathetic people (i say sarcastically). I am sure selling drugs as a job doesn't have health insurance as a benefit. Lets pray that this family does not reproduce any more offspring that will also become a useless burden on society.
Amanda Gossage October 14, 2013 at 01:22 PM
I am finding it extremely difficult to feel sorry for these people. Look at them. I totally agree with Ed. I find it hard to believe that they did not know what they were shooting up. Regardless it is a Drug. They knew, whatever is was, heroin, crocodile, and whatever else is not a good thing to be doing. People like this should be sterilized so they don't reproduce!
Kathy October 14, 2013 at 01:30 PM
I enjoy the Patch and the stories but I really think this story was one that could have been untold. I seriously hope you didn't give them a couple dollars to tell there stories to help pay for their next fix.... Whether they knew what it was or not it would not have mattered at the time because they needed a fix and would have done anything to get that fix. A better story would have been to find out how much public aid they receive. Bet they get the Link Card, Bet they have Medicaid, Housing Assistance, most likely even cash assistance... and yet they can all afford to pay for heroin... Just reminds us of how backwards and broke our system really is
Missy Goodman October 14, 2013 at 03:47 PM
I get that many people don't want to hear about this- that's fine and dandy. However, I do feel that we need to hear and know about it. Many have children and other family members that are either experimenting with drugs, or are already full blown addicts. Knowing about something like this helps to know what is out there, and that they can try to help by warning their friends and family of "This is the reason why you shouldn't be doing these drugs!" They may think they are doing heroin, but really, they aren't. They don't know. It's not like they buy a bag off a dealer and it has an ingredients list on it. THANK YOU PATCH for posting about this and for also submitting pictures. Seeing what it can do to a person just reiterates how much of an idiot a person is when they experiment with drugs!
Shirl Brown Fretz October 14, 2013 at 04:11 PM
how sweet its a family thing lets see if they stop doing it
Bill Hill October 14, 2013 at 04:30 PM
i hope anyone gets caught selling this garbage gets a automatic ten to 15 years in prison.this is going to kill a lot of people young teens who are hooked .everyone needs to know about this everywhere.i only hope it aint in ohio
Bill Hill October 14, 2013 at 04:35 PM
people are so heartless .wait till your kids or there freinds start using and end up gettin crocidile
Bill Hill October 14, 2013 at 04:41 PM
i cant believe the russians made this drug ten years ago .this needs to be posted worldwide.i feel sorry for anyone that gets there hands on this stuff. u know people somewhere outthere are handin out free samples of this stuff.hopefully poor souls out there realise it aint herion.
Luke Easter October 14, 2013 at 11:10 PM
Crocodile At first glance, this name conjures up images of the river Nile, That most ferocious stealth fighter the one and only Crocodile, Surely as that present day prehistoric monster signifies death, A modern day version sold on the streets stymies your breath. Unlike Alligators, Crocodiles have narrower and longer heads, Another difference is teeth in the lower jaw fall along the edge, And even though they appear to be similar to the untrained eye, Bottom line is, a head on collision with either you will surely die. Crocodile written about today is being sold on American streets, It’s out of the river on dry land where the beast cannot compete, The Neitzel family, sisters Amber 26, Angie 29 and mom Kim 48, Treated for symptoms associated with Crocodile but is it too late? Now most of Amber’s, “rose tattoo” on her calf has rotted her skin, However, as with any addiction how, where and why did it begin? Knowing destructive consequences before indulging in the 1st hit, And also aware once you begin it is damn near impossible to quit. All 3 are heroin addicts apparently that high was not high enough, And if that doesn’t destroy your life they sought out stronger stuff, Yet Amber claims she’ had been doing Crocodile 18 months unaware, When they began this heroin substitute causing a flesh-eating scare. By combining codeine tablets, paint thinner, lighter fluid, gasoline, Along with other harmful substances this is a drug addicts dream, It can make you howl like a lone wolf, even convulse in ecstasy, You’ll rob, steal, sell your body because no high will ever be free. Destroy your insides with the devastation of Cirrhosis of the liver, Cold Turkey, you’ll sweat, scream, shake, pray for death and shiver, Gangrene with large abscesses all over the user's body after a while, Neitzel’s are going public alerting others of the danger of Crocodile. The drug, also spelled Krokodil originally appeared in Russia in 2003, How it made it to the purchase place, Chicago, is it really a mystery? Kim being struck by Crocodile without knowing it underwent surgery, As the destructive rapture of her skin, one look is by no means pretty. Neitzels never suspected they were shooting a Russian knock-off drug, So therefore, neither were they aware of the grave they had almost dug, Months after surgery she remains disfigured, aware is Chicago’s DEA, Agent Jack Riley, task force is canvassing… to find & put dealers away.
Ken DeLuc October 14, 2013 at 11:19 PM
Courtney the Patch is a NEWS site. yeah its disgusting, but not the reporting, I for one am glad that I now know about this problem. Isn't it more important to inform our kids what not to do than bully a reporter because his story doesn't agree with the concept of your perfect bubble where nothing bad ever happens?
Dan October 15, 2013 at 08:07 AM
does she think she wins something because she claims to be the first in joliet?
Brad Zandstra October 16, 2013 at 05:23 PM
I'm having a hard time believing the whole "we didn't know it was crocodile" claim. When morons do drugs like heroin, they either snort, shoot or smoke it. C Since two of those involve fire wouldn't crocodile be (according to the ingredients) be really volatile? I would think putting a flame to that crap would result in more then just the bubbles that come from cooking/smoking heroin. Also, wouldn't the smell be significantly different? (ie gasoline and butane?) I mean I wish them the best but I can't buy the "I didn't know it was crocodile" crap. Please lets all hope that their gene pool ends with them.
Rachel October 22, 2013 at 12:42 PM
Can we stop calling it "crocodile"? It's Krokodil. If you're going to use it, at least know what it's called.

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