FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Drug Enforcement Administration has taken supplies of a key lethal injection drug from Kentucky and Tennessee, effectively preventing any executions in three states while it investigates how the drug was imported during a national shortage.
Several states scrambled to find a new supplier of sodium thiopental, a fast-acting sedative in a three-drug formula used when putting inmates to death, since its primary manufacturer in the United States stopped making the drug.
In March, the DEA seized Georgia’s entire supply, blocking the scheduling of any further executions there. Defense lawyers say Georgia’s supply came from a fly-by-night British supplier. The DEA did not say why it was seized, except that there were questions about how it was imported.
Officials in both Kentucky and Tennessee said yesterday that they also turned over their supplies.
According to records obtained by The Associated Press, Tennessee officials purchased the drug from an overseas supplier last year. Kentucky bought the drug in February from a Georgia company.
Kentucky officials said they were cooperating in an unspecified federal investigation and willingly turned over its entire supply.