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Tag: designer drugs

DEA Head Warns of Alarming Increase in Overdoses from Synthetic Drugs

The use of synthetic drugs is reaching alarming levels.

The use of synthetic drugs is reaching alarming levels.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Synthetic designer drugs are causing an alarming number of overdoses, especially among young people, DEA head Chuck Rosenberg told a U.S. Senate Committee. 

The DEA has been trying to curb the use and delivery of synthetic drugs since they became increasingly popular in 2010. Trouble is, synthetic drug makers are churning out products faster than the federal government can ban them, Reuters reports. 

“For every one substance we’ve controlled, legislatively or administratively, there are 11 more out there that are uncontrolled,” Rosenberg said.

“We’re playing catch-up, and we need your help.”

Synthetic drugs include bath salts, counterfeit painkillers and cannabinoids that mimic marijuana.

Other Stories of Interest

Across the Country, the Federal Designer-Drug Crackdown Takes Prisoners, Cash, and a Legal Backlash

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper

BALTIMORE –– Dev Bahadur Hamal worked behind the counter of the Tobacco Stop in Bel Air, one of those ubiquitous shops that sell legal smokables and accessories for illegal ones, like bongs, hookahs, rolling papers, pot grinders, and glass pipes.

On Sept. 22, 2011, a customer stepped up to the counter and asked whether the Tobacco Stop sold “Hysteria.” Hamal nodded and sold him a 1-gram packet of the stuff, labeled “potpourri” that is “not for human consumption,” for $21.20. The customer held his hand to his mouth while pinching together his thumb and index finger, and asked if “you smoke this stuff.” Hamal said, “Yes.” Pointing out that his pipe wasn’t working properly, the customer asked for rolling papers, and Hamal said the stuff was “very strong,” urging caution if smoking it that way.

Hamal’s helpfulness has been memorialized in numerous federal court documents in the years since, causing no end of trouble.

The customer, it turned out, was an undercover officer working for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Hysteria, subsequent testing confirmed, was a kind of illegal designer drug popularly known as “K2” or “Spice,” said to mimic the effects of pot. Hamal had unwittingly spawned a cross-country probe into an alleged illegal Spice supply line to Maryland from California.

To read the full story click here.

DEA Launches ‘Largest’ Ever Worldwide Crackdown on Synthetic Drugs

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA has launched what it calls its “largest ever” crackdown on synthetic drugs, arresting more than 150 people in 49 cities and five countries, the U.S. News & World Report writes.

The bust is good news for authorities who have seen the devastating impact of designer synthetic drugs, which often are marketed to teens as a harmless product such as bath salts or herbal incense. Users have suffered from seizures, hallucinations, significant organ damage and even death, according to the DEA.

More than 225 people were arrested.

“This is a significant seizure of synthetic drugs and is a terrific result for our respective law enforcement agencies,” said Graham Fletcher, Australia’s acting ambassador to the United States, in the DEA statement. “Australia remains committed to sharing intelligence with its U.S. partners to combat transnational crime across international borders. This is a win for our collective communities.”

Ross Parker: DEA Responds Rapidly to Chinese Chemists and Designer Drugs

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

In my two-part series I recently noted how rapidly Chinese chemists can react once one of their designer drugs is made illegal. They do this by tweaking the chemical combination and modifying them to arguably place them outside of the ambit of the new law. DEA showed last week that they can act rapidly also by temporarily scheduling three synthetic cannabinoids as Schedule I controlled substances. This action will make any manufacture, distribution or possession of these substances illegal.

The temporary scheduling is for a period of two years. The substances, the latest generation of so-called “fake pot,” were designated as UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48 and have been falsely marketed on the internet and in some stores as herbal incense or potpourri. The DEA preliminary investigation determined that the drugs were being consumed especially by teens and young people with some serious medical effects. DEA concluded that the drugs posed an imminent hazard to the public safety.

Normally the investigation which precedes temporary scheduling can take up to two years as DEA checks on the prevalence, medical danger, and other circumstances surrounding the drug under consideration. However, as noted in the article, the speed with which these dangerous drugs can be designed, manufactured, and marketed, has required a faster response. In this case the agency is believed to have completed its study in a number of months

This development, along with some litigation the last few months, illustrate the need proposed in the special report for legislative reform, action by the public, and more resources for law enforcement in this rapidly evolving area. No doubt the Chinese chemists have already replaced these drugs with others equally deadly to fill their customers’ orders.

STORIES OF OTHER INTEREST

Part 2: What We Can Do to Confront the Threat of New Designer Drugs from China

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. This is the second in a two-part series.  To read the first part, click here.
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Part one of this report discussed the menace of a new generation of synthetic designer drugs from China causing a public health crisis in Europe. In America, in the last two years, enterprising rogue Chinese chemists have introduced hundreds of these new chemical combinations into the market.

This plague in America  is steadily growing worse.  Law enforcement and medical experts believe that the tens of thousands of reported cases in hospitals in the last year are just the tip of the iceberg. These numbers have essentially doubled just in the last year. The rate of reporting by the agencies like DAWN, which records emergency room admissions, and NFLIS, which keeps track of law enforcement laboratory tests on drugs, is a bleak harbinger of things to come.

Unless aggressive action is taken, we can expect the same panic the British are experiencing from this onslaught. On a more optimistic note, there are positive steps that can be taken and virtually all individuals and groups can have a role in this defense. This part will outline a strategy which can meet this oncoming crisis.

Parents —– Since the victims are largely teenagers living at home, the first line of defense has to be the parents. At a minimum all parents of teens and pre-teens should have a frank and two-sided conversation to educate their children on the life-threatening effects of these drugs, which are deceptively packaged and marketed as a “legal high.”

Teens think they are immortal and the prospect of some exciting new forbidden experience can be irresistible. Information and misinformation about the synthetics are spread by friends and acquaintances, and the availability is cheap and accessible. Many of these new consumers are naïve about drugs in general, as well as their dangers.

A teenage boy in North Dakota is currently facing murder charges because he gave a single tablet of a synthetic drug to a friend. The friend died shortly after ingesting it at a party. The consequences of such single acts are beyond the comprehension of most teens.

Read more »

Part 2: What We Can Do to Confront the Threat of New Designer Drugs from China

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. This is the second in a two-part series.  To read the first part, click here.
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Part one of this report discussed the menace of a new generation of synthetic designer drugs from China causing a public health crisis in Europe. In America, in the last two years, enterprising rogue Chinese chemists have introduced hundreds of these new chemical combinations into the market.

This plague in America  is steadily growing worse.  Law enforcement and medical experts believe that the tens of thousands of reported cases in hospitals in the last year are just the tip of the iceberg. These numbers have essentially doubled just in the last year. The rate of reporting by the agencies like DAWN, which records emergency room admissions, and NFLIS, which keeps track of law enforcement laboratory tests on drugs, is a bleak harbinger of things to come.

Unless aggressive action is taken, we can expect the same panic the British are experiencing from this onslaught. On a more optimistic note, there are positive steps that can be taken and virtually all individuals and groups can have a role in this defense. This part will outline a strategy which can meet this oncoming crisis.

Parents —– Since the victims are largely teenagers living at home, the first line of defense has to be the parents. At a minimum all parents of teens and pre-teens should have a frank and two-sided conversation to educate their children on the life-threatening effects of these drugs, which are deceptively packaged and marketed as a “legal high.”

Teens think they are immortal and the prospect of some exciting new forbidden experience can be irresistible. Information and misinformation about the synthetics are spread by friends and acquaintances, and the availability is cheap and accessible. Many of these new consumers are naïve about drugs in general, as well as their dangers.

A teenage boy in North Dakota is currently facing murder charges because he gave a single tablet of a synthetic drug to a friend. The friend died shortly after ingesting it at a party. The consequences of such single acts are beyond the comprehension of most teens.

Read more »

First of 2 Parts: China Exports Deadly New Designer Drugs for American Teens

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Cyber information is not the only thing the Chinese are stealing from the United States. A new generation of synthetic designer drugs is robbing the physical and mental health of thousands of American teenagers. In the last two years enterprising rogue Chinese chemists have introduced hundreds of these new chemical combinations into the American market.

Although the motive is crassly profit-oriented rather than something even more sinister, the effect is sadly the same. Emergency room admissions and law enforcement reports reveal a looming public health crisis unlike that caused by any preceding class of drugs.

And there is often little either group can do about it as they struggle to react to the problem.

A dizzying variety of medical and psychological problems are listed in recent reports.

A Hawaii man tried to throw his girlfriend off the 11th floor balcony of their apartment building.

A Kentucky woman threw her two-year old son from her car onto the highway because she believed him to be a demon.

A Mississippi man stabbed himself repeatedly in the abdomen with a hunting knife to remove wires he thought were inside his body.

The list of bizarre and tragic stories of behavior caused by the psychoactive drugs goes on and on and on.

Just when the public and law enforcement were beginning to grab a hold on the problems caused by cathinones (“bath salts”) and cannabinoids (“spice,” incorrectly referred to as synthetic marijuana), Chinese laboratories have unleashed modified chemical compounds beyond the practical and legal reach of all but the most sophisticated law enforcement authorities. The public, parents, and teachers, are almost completely unaware of the new drug problem that is unfolding. Medical professionals who treat these kids in hospitals are just becoming aware of the problem.

Drug analogues and chemical compounds altered to avoid enforcement are not a new phenomenon. Since heroin was made illegal in the 1920s, amoral profiteers have developed related and uncontrolled substances whose effects mimic, or even exceed, those of the illegal substance.

Efforts to modify illegal drugs are unwittingly assisted by legitimate, academic researchers studying psychoactive drugs for medical purposes who then publish the results of their research. A current example is a Purdue University professor studying the effect such compounds have on brain receptors in animals. His scientific publications are immediately co-opted by renegade chemists who use the knowledge to create new “legal” drugs to sell to their customers.

About a decade ago rogue chemists from China and elsewhere started using similar research to develop drugs such as bath salts and spice. The market developed in a generally westerly direction into Russia, then Europe, and finally to the United States.

These drugs were cheap. They were beyond law enforcement, and easily accessible through the internet. Middlemen wholesalers sold them in gas stations, convenience and liquor stores, and smoke shops. They were advertised as plant food, incense, and other purposes for which they had no actual utility. In fact, the substances have no legitimate medical or industrial application. For example, “bath salts” is just a street name and has nothing in common with those colorful little granules you put in your bathtub to make it bubbly. The sellers side-stepped even a misdemeanor FDA violation by printing “not for human consumption” on the brightly colored packaging–sometimes adding a cartoon character to appeal to youthful customers.

Read more »