Synthetic Marijuana: Chicago Police Seize 100 Pounds Of Banned Substance In Raid


Chicago police say the pounds of synthetic marijuana and paraphernalia seized from a Northwest Side warehouse Friday was bound for the streets and marketed directly at children.

A task force that monitors possible drug shipments alerted Chicago police Friday that a 64-pound package containing banned substances could be bound for Chicago, and the CPD obtained a warrant to search the destination warehouse, the Chicago Tribune reports. Inside they found 100 pounds of synthetic marijuana, valued at about $775,000.

Police are calling the warehouse and its operations a “shipping hub for narcotics,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports. While executing the warrant, police also found more than 100 cases of drug-related paraphernalia including packing and shipping materials and cash.

Earlier this month, the CPD intercepted $265,000 worth of synthetic marijuana bound for Chicago packaged in “Scooby Snax” foil packets. The same packaging was found on synthetic marijuana in the Northwest Side warehouse bust, ABC Chicago reports.

“Synthetic marijuana poses a significant public health risk and it is important to keep this product from hitting our streets,” James O’Grady, Commander of the Narcotics Division, told Fox Chicago after the first package was intercepted.

Chicagoan Rajendrakumar Patel, 52, and Davendra Patel, 61, of Bloomingdale were arrested after police executed the search warrant and face two felony counts each of possession of a controlled substance, NBC Chicago reports.

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Troubleshooter: Cops can’t stop store from selling spice


CLARKSVILLE, IN (WAVE) – A dangerous drug is being sold right out in the open right in the heart of Kentuckiana. The WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department went undercover to expose how one local business is getting away with it and why police have not been able to stop it.

Business is booming at one of southern Indiana’s hottest new locations, but no one wants to talk about what is on the menu.

Police said what they are buying inside Monroe’s in Clarksville is synthetic marijuana. Its street name is spice. Spice is a shredded, dried plant sprayed with chemicals that produces a mind altering high.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse said people who smoke spice often feel psychotic effects. The effects include extreme anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations that have been linked to illness and death.

Spice is illegal in Indiana, but Troubleshooter Eric Flack discovered it is being sold right out in the open at Monroe’s. Hidden camera video caught a seemingly revolving door as streams of customers come and go. Parents and professionals. Young and old.

“I’ve seen it busier than Kroger right next door,” said Cpl. Tony Lehman of the Clarksville Police Department.

A WAVE 3 Troubleshooter producer went in undercover with a hidden camera to get a look at what was going on inside. The video shows there is nothing in the store but a pool table, a coke machine, a display case of glass pipes, and a man behind a counter who chose his words carefully.

“What you trying to get?” the man asked our undercover producer. She told him she was looking for spice.

“We don’t sell spice baby,” he said. “We got some incense.”

Although he referred to what he was selling as incense, his intent seemed clear when we asked him about the range of prices.

“Depends on how strong you want your incense,” the man told our undercover producer.

The undercover producer ended up buying something called Triple-X. It cost about $10 and was labeled “not for human consumption”, but it looked exactly like the synthetic marijuana linked to all those dangerous side effects.

The guy who gave our producer the Triple-X would not come out and talk to Troubleshooter Eric Flack when he returned to Monroe’s to get an explanation about what they were selling.

“Cut that (expletive) camera off man,” he said.

The Clarksville Police Department has been investigating the store for months but thus far have been unable to make any arrests.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Cpl. Lehman said. “It’s just horrible for the community, it’s horrible for the kids and people who smoke this stuff, and its so frustrating that we can’t do anything about it.”

The Troubleshooter Department discovered the reason police can not do anything about it. Technology used by Indiana State Police can not keep up with the problem.

State Representative Milo Smith, who wrote Indiana’s spice law, said ISP’s lab equipment is not advanced enough to identify the newer, altered compounds of synthetic marijuana, which can be just a few molecules different from the original. Police said they can not press charges until tests confirm the presence of those banned chemical compounds.

Representative Smith said state police have not given up. He said ISP is now searching for private labs with equipment capable of proving what is being sold at Monroe’s is illegal so they can stop it from being sold on the open market.

In the midst of the Troubleshooter investigation, Monroe’s was the scene of a violent confrontation with a man who allegedly tried to break into the store and steal the synthetic marijuana.

Kevin Martin is now facing a list of charges that includes resisting arrest and burglary after he fought with officers who caught him trying to rob Monroe’s. Witnesses saw Martin throw a rock through the front door and called police. When officers arrived they said Martin fought with them and tried to escape before he was finally handcuffed and taken into custody.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office is aware of growing spice problem in the area and is trying to step up enforcement and is threatening to seize the assets of businesses caught selling spice if they don not sign an affidavit to stop.

Attention All Readers – You Must Know


All yellow Porsche 997 Turbo

First i would like to thank each and every reader that has made our blog one of the largest if not the largest for herbal incense and bath salt reviews and news. I have had so many emails these past 2 months asking me if you can buy herbal incense products from me. I just dont have time to email every request back that i get and i never want a reader to think that we are not interacting with you.

Here is the facts, we do not in any way shape or form sell herbal incense products. We are simply a resource for information in the herbal incense spice world. We enjoy giving readers information about the herbal incense spice busts and the incense industy reviews on herbal products. I know that the DEA and law enforcement has cracked down hard on several business across the USA over the past 2 months and now herbal incense is much harder to find.

I know this because everyday i get all the news and busts from our large database of resources and news streams. But i want to make it very clear we are only a resource for learning everything there is to know about herbal incense and news. We do not sell, stock, or tell clients where to buy herbal products or bath salts. If a client sends us a sample of there herbal incense products and its a legal product, we will review that product and write a post to edcuate the public on what we feel about that product. Keep in mind everyone has a different opion about herbal products and everything in life.

Here is an example, i have a freind of mine that bought a brand new porsche and its an amazing car. But that car is bright yellow and to me its screams UGLY. Now everyone else might just love yellow porsches, but i cant stand yellow cars. Now if i was to write a review about that bright yellow car i would say what a nice ride but bad choice in the cars color. Lets say i posted a pic it here

Now how many of you think this yellow porsche 997 turbo is amazing? Well when i look at it i just see a yellow BEE.

So my point is that everyone does not agree on everything. Many times when i post about a herbal incense i have tried i do my best to insure that i let people know just how strong there herbal spice is. Well to me – a daily smoker, its not as strong as someone that might only smoke once a month. Thats why i do my best to be honest so that my readers know what there getting before they get it. But thats only my opion. If i here of any great websites selling wholesale herbal incense i will make a post and update you and try to do a mass email on all the requests that i get for it.

But honstly i dont like to tell people where to buy any products, just give you a review of what i tried what my personal opion is of that product and where i got it from.
Hope this helps and as always thanks for all the support from our readers. It really is awesome. We have over 300,000 visits per week and thats truly amazing!

Synthetic Drug Ring In Allentown Busted By DEA


Thats right 15 people were arrested in bust of alleged synthetic drugs operation run from Allentown warehouse.
NORRISTOWN, Montgomery County — The inventory in an old east Allentown warehouse was a drug user’s paradise: rows and rows of colorful glass smoking bongs, boxes holding thousands of grinders and scales, hundreds of rolling papers and about $200,000.

For store owners in the region looking to score chemically enhanced drugs like bath salts and synthetic marijuana, not to mention the goods needed to smoke them, J&L Wholesale Distributors at 1006 Hanover Ave. was the place to go, authorities say.

J&L’s lucrative enterprise, housed in a nondescript building near a day care center and in a school zone, kicked into high gear when synthetic drugs were declared illegal in Pennsylvania a year ago, authorities said.

But that came crashing down Thursday for J&L owner Kenneth Grossman when police rounded up him and 14 others, mostly from the Lehigh Valley. Authorities said they say helped push a relatively cheap high on drug users from the Lehigh Valley to New Jersey.

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All were charged with participating in a corrupt organization and profiting from the proceeds of illegal activity, both first-degree felonies, and related drug offenses.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said during a news conference with Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin that the elaborate drug sting, known as “Operation Bowls, Bongs and Beyond,” put a dent in the drug trade in both counties, yielded synthetic marijuana, two tractor-trailers filled with paraphernalia, plus several guns.

Police also seized more than $900,000, including money from the warehouse and several bank accounts, and dozens of common items such as soda cans, sugar containers and clocks that were hollowed out to create secret compartments used to hide drugs.

Grossman, 52, of 820 E. Chew St., Allentown also was part of a partnership that ran Insense Specialties, which supplied the illegal drugs, mainly synthetic marijuana and bath salts, authorities said. The others in the partnership were: Jason Grossman, 24, of 1847 Cloverdale Road, Bethlehem; Rajwant Thind, 30, of 6498 Overlook Road, Orefield; and Malwinder Mangat, 26, of 1016 Hilltop Court, Leesport.

Martin said the arrests show authorities are making good on their pledge last year to crack down on store owners selling the drugs that became illegal in August 2011 and their suppliers.

“Hopefully, they will get the message that we will prosecute,” Martin said.

Known as designer drugs, the substances are made from natural herbs and synthetic chemicals to mirror the effects of drugs like marijuana. But the drugs have been known to cause erratic and violent behavior in those who take them. Police say people high on the synthetic drugs have unusual strength and tolerance to pain.

Ferman said she was particularly disturbed that the drugs were targeted at youngsters, with packaging labeled “Scooby Snax” and with the Batman emblem. She pointed out an incident in June 30 during which a 20-year-old man from Upper Pottsgrove Township, Montgomery County, involved in a vehicle crash told medics that he was hallucinating after smoking a substance called “K-2” and took his hands off the wheel “to see what happened.”

“This is a huge, profitable business and these people are in it for the money,” Ferman said. “This is a community [in Allentown] where children are in the neighborhood. These are toxic, dangerous substances.”

Ferman said J&L became the prime target of the probe involving multiple police departments after investigators realized that items seized in store busts all led back to the warehouse. Among the stores that allegedly distributed the drugs and paraphernalia: Deli Mart, South Whitehall Township; Trexler Plaza Sunoco in Upper Macungie Township; the EZ Shoppe in East Greenville; Main Street Market in Schwenksville; and U.S. Gas in Upper Frederick Township.

Detective Joseph P. Kelly Jr. of Souderton police, who helped head the investigation, said Grossman even took his show on the road to branch out, bringing samples to an October 2011 “head shop” convention in Atlantic City, N.J.,

Police went as far as setting up a fake business in Souderton to order items from J&L, and used multiple informants to pin down all of the players.

Thind, identified in court records as manager of the Trexler Plaza Sunoco at 5917 Tilghman St., Upper Macungie, told police that Kenneth Grossman took a majority of the synthetic drug product orders and that Thind and Mangat filled the orders and sent the products to customers.

The others charged were employees of Grossman’s company or store owners who bought items from J&L and resold them.

They include: Kunal G. Patel, 42, of 377 Indigo Way, Upper Macungie; Jaymin G. Patel, 45, of 457 Wild Mint Lane, Upper Macungie; Dean A. Fenstermaker Jr., 29, of 4272 Windsor Drive, Upper Macungie; Jeffrey Robertson Jr., 25, of 10441 Trexler Road, Upper Macungie; Abdulah F. Soonasra, 64, of 1713 Brookstone Drive, Alburtis; Lisa A. Zupa, 35, of 233 Harvard Avenue, Palmerton; Mohammed F. Rahman, 42, of Lansdale; Ibrahim Fayez Saloum, 41, of Schwenksville; Amy N. Velazquez, 30, of Schwenksville; Yashvant M. Patel, 49, of East Greenville; Yogesh Patel, 44, of East Greenville.

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting all of the cases.

Bath salts’ popularity points to dangerous trend


The new drug hit Batavia’s youth like the plague.
A piercing artist at Affliction Tattoo shop, Eric Betz, had seen his fair share of stoned, high and tripping substance abusers.
But nothing like the girl he saw in the park next to his house smashing her head into a cement wall.
“Ever see Batman?” he asked. “They act like the Joker: Psychotic. Aggressive. Paranoid.”
The culprit was “bath salts,” the increasingly popular narcotic associated with violent acts and paranoia. Bath salts were sold legally in head shops and corner stores across New York State up until two weeks ago, when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a crackdown on synthetic drugs sweeping the nation. The governor unveiled new state Health Department regulations making it illegal to buy or sell these synthetic drugs, with violators facing up to $500 in fines and up to 15 days in jail.
Experts say that while making the drugs illegal may cut down on the number of cases reported, it will likely not annihilate the drug.
“We banned marijuana, cocaine and heroin, but they’re still out there,” said Senior Detective Alan Rozansky, head of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Squad.
The drug isn’t related to regular bath salts used in bathing, which are made of actual salt and added fragrances. But the narcotics were sometimes sold under that label.
The drug is in fact synthesized from various methamphetamine-like chemicals, allowing it to be inhaled, swallowed or injected.
As a new drug, its effects have yet to be fully understood, though research indicates it’s highly addictive.
Its use nationwide spiked in the past year. In 2010, poison control centers reported receiving 304 phone calls related to bath salts. Last year, that number shot up to 6,138, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
The powdery substances were previously sold in small packets at head shops or corner stores – and often most accessible over the Internet.
Prices ranged from $25 to $50 for a 50-milligram packet.
Though generically referred to as “bath salts,” they’ve been sold under names such as Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, Red Dove, White Dove, Blue Silk and Zoom. Sometimes they were labeled as plant food.
The bath salts have been manufactured with legal chemicals, allowing distributors to sell them without criminal penalty.
While “bath salts” aren’t methamphetamine or cocaine, experts say they could be more threatening because they were only recently made illegal, and because the community has yet to build up the same fear that surrounds other drugs.
Last year, after several minors showed up at hospitals with bath salt-related symptoms – hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and rapid heart rates – U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. authorized search warrants for the drug sellers and several arrests were made, including that of a Williamsville man accused of selling synthetic marijuana from two shops in Tonawanda, where authorities also seized bath salts.
While the drug itself was still legal at the time of the raids, Hochul said the sales were illegal under the Federal Analog Act because the bath salts had the same effect as a regulated drug, such as methamphetamine and that the seller sold the drug for purposes of human consumption.
Authorities said the sellers would tell undercover officers something like, “It gives you a good high.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office filed lawsuits in 12 counties last month, accusing 16 stores of violating state labeling laws, after investigators found head shops selling bath salts, among other synthetic drugs, in packages that failed to list ingredients.
Pavilion International, which operates shops at 3234 Main St. in Buffalo and 4225 Transit Road in Amherst, was among those sued.
While Genesee County had more highly publicized episodes and greater community involvement in protesting the drug’s use, Hochul said a similar number of cases are seen in Buffalo. They are just overshadowed by a wide range of other crimes that get more publicity, he said.
In Batavia, the use of bath salts declined since police shut down the 420 Emporium, a major market for the drug, said Detective Rich Schauf of the Batavia Police Department.
The fact that bath salts are now illegal should also decrease their use, he said.But he is concerned that, because the drug was once legal, people will believe it isn’t harmful and make them curious to try it.
“Up until now, you could walk into the store and buy it,” he said.
Because of the new regulations and educational programs, Schauf said he believes people are starting to understand that the drug was never intended for recreational use and is dangerous.
“It’s a common misconception that ‘legal’ equals ‘safe,’ ” he said. “That’s not the case at all.”
Bath salts have increased the workload at Batavia’s United Memorial Medical Center’s emergency room, according to Chief Medical Officer Michael Merrill.
“At one point, we had patients coming in every day,” he said.
Merrill describes bath salts as “designer drugs meant to be effective,” and particularly dangerous due to their link with violent acts.
The new drug, though, has been especially troubling to Betz, the tattoo shop employee, who said he knows about 15 people who use it.
He and his co-workers have created a Facebook page, Let’s Beat Bath Salts, where people in the area have shared stories of what they’ve witnessed in order to stir their crusade against the drug’s use.
“I’ve watched them destroy their lives, lose their money and their self-respect,” he said.

Health Department regulation will make it a violation to buy, sell or possess synthetic drugs like bath salts and fake marijuana


ALBANY — State and local law enforcement would have new power to fight the growing problem of designer drugs and fake pot under a new regulation set to be announced by Gov. Cuomo.
The Health Department regulation, to be unveiled Tuesday, will make it a violation to sell, distribute, or possess synthetic drugs like bath salts and fake pot.
Violators could face up to 15 days in jail, a small fine, or even have their businesses shut down.
“It gives law enforcement a nimble, flexible tool they can take immediate action on,” a Cuomo aide said.
The state will also create a hotline for parents and others to report stores selling the illegal products. And the Health Department will spearhead a web campaign to educate the public about the deadly drugs.
The actions come a month after President Obama signed a law to ban designer drugs and fake pot.
The Cuomo administration order doesn’t hold nearly the same power as the federal law, which carries penalties of up to 20 years in prison — or more if someone dies or is seriously hurt. The federal law also carries fines of up to $5 million for first-time offenders.
Cuomo aides say the state action is similar to going after low-level drug dealers while the feds focus on the kingpins.
“The feds are going to go after the big fish, but it’s not the big fish that are necessarily the problem,” one aide said. “It’s the bodega on the corner. And a U.S. attorney is not going to go after a bodega on the corner.”
The regulation builds on an order Cuomo’s Health Department issued last year banning the sale of the synthetic drugs and allowing for the shutdown of businesses that ignored it.
That order followed an exclusive Daily News investigation revealing the deadly dangers of the designer drug.
But manufacturers responded by simply tweaking the chemical compounds to stay ahead of the authorities.
The new regulation outlaws dozens more chemicals than the previous one and, for the first time, makes it a violation that allows local law enforcement to get involved.
Also, unlike the federal law, someone simply possessing a synthetic drug without the intent to sell it can be charged, a Cuomo aide said.
Synthetic drugs are marketed as imitating the effects of pot, cocaine and LSD. They are often masked as everyday household items like bath salts or potpourri.
But they can cause hallucinations, seizures and suicidal or homicidal thoughts.
Emergency room visits and state Poison Control calls linked to the deadly drugs have been on the rise since 2011, the state Health Department reported.
Sen. Charles Schumer, who sponsored the federal law, called the Cuomo action “another tool at our disposal.”

ICE participates in nationwide synthetic drug takedown


ICE participates in nationwide synthetic drug takedown

 

WASHINGTON – More than 90 individuals were arrested and approximately five million packets of finished designer synthetic drugs were seized in the first-ever nationwide law enforcement action against the synthetic designer drug industry responsible for the production and sale of synthetic drugs that are often marketed as bath salts, Spice, incense, or plant food. More than $36 million in cash was also seized.

As of today, more than 4.8 million packets of synthetic cannabinoids (K2, Spice) and the products to produce nearly 13.6 million more, as well as 167,000 packets of synthetic cathinones (bath salts), and the products to produce an additional 392,000 were seized.

Operation Log Jam was conducted jointly by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with assistance from the IRS Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, as well as state and local law enforcement members in more than 109 U.S. cities and targeted every level of the synthetic designer drug industry, including retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers.

“Today, we struck a huge blow to the synthetic drug industry. The criminal organizations behind the importation, distribution and selling of these synthetic drugs have scant regard for human life in their reckless pursuit of illicit profits,” said Acting Director of ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations James Chaparro. “ICE is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to bring this industry to its knees.”

“Although tremendous progress has been made in legislating and scheduling these dangerous substances, this enforcement action has disrupted the entire illegal industry, from manufacturers to retailers,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “Together with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we are committed to targeting these new and emerging drugs with every scientific, legislative and investigative tool at our disposal.”

“The synthetic drug industry is an emerging area where we can leverage our financial investigative expertise to trace the path of illicit drug proceeds by identifying the financial linkages among the various co-conspirators,” said Richard Weber, chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and ultimately dismantle the highest level drug trafficking and drug money laundering organizations that pose the greatest threat to Americans and American interests.”

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service aggressively investigates the use of the U.S. Mail system for the distribution of illegal controlled substances and its proceeds. Our agency uses a multi-tiered approach to these crimes: protection against the use of the mail for illegal purposes and enforcement of laws against drug trafficking and money laundering. This includes collaboration with other agencies,” said Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell.

“The mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is to guard our country’s borders from people and goods that could harm our way of life,” said Acting Commissioner David V. Aguilar. “We are proud to be part of an operation that disrupts the flow of synthetic drugs into the country and out of the hands of the American people.”

Over the past several years, there has been a growing use of, and interest in, synthetic cathinones (stimulants/hallucinogens) sold under the guise of “bath salts” or “plant food.” Marketed under names such as “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Vanilla Sky,” or “Bliss,” these products are comprised of a class of dangerous substances perceived to mimic cocaine, LSD, MDMA and/or methamphetamine. Users have reported impaired perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia and violent episodes. The long-term physical and psychological effects of use are unknown but potentially severe.

These products have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults and those who mistakenly believe they can bypass the drug testing protocols that have been set up by employers and government agencies to protect public safety. They are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops and over the Internet. However, they have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for human consumption or for medical use, and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process.

Smokable herbal blends marketed as being “legal” and providing a marijuana-like high have also become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults, because they are easily available and, in many cases, they are more potent and dangerous than marijuana. These products consist of plant material that has been coated with dangerous psychoactive compounds that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Just as with the synthetic cathinones, synthetic cannabinoids are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops and over the Internet. Brands such as “Spice,” “K2,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn” are labeled as incense to mask their intended purpose.

While many of the designer drugs being marketed today that were seized as part of Operation Log Jam are not specifically prohibited in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986 (AEA) allows these drugs to be treated as controlled substances if they are proven to be chemically and/or pharmacologically similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance. A number of cases that are part of Operation Log Jam will be prosecuted federally under this analogue provision, which specifically exists to combat these new and emerging designer drugs.

DEA has used its emergency scheduling authority to combat both synthetic cathinones (the so-called bath salts like Ivory Wave, etc.) and synthetic cannabinoids (the so-called incense products like K2, Spice, etc.), temporarily placing several of these dangerous chemicals into Schedule I of the CSA. Congress has also acted, permanently placing 26 substances into Schedule I of the CSA.

In 2010, poison centers nationwide responded to about 3,200 calls related to synthetic “Spice” and “bath salts.” In 2011, that number jumped to more than 13,000 calls. Sixty percent of the cases involved patients 25 and younger

INFO FROM http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1207/120726washingtondc.htm

The battle against bath salts


People are inventing so many new, legal ways to get high that lawmakers can’t keep up.

So law enforcers are taking new steps to target these synthetic drugs.

Those steps include coordinated raids. The latest was Wednesday, when federal agents arrested more than 90 people in a nationwide sweep of synthetic drug producers, distributors and retailers — including a number in Pennsylvania.

Across the country, agents seized more than five million packets of finished designer synthetic drugs, including substances marketed as bath salts, spice, incense, K-2 and plant food, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

They also recovered more than $36 million in cash in the sweep, code named Operation Log Jam.

“We struck a huge blow to the synthetic drug industry,” said James Chaparro, the acting director of the Office of Homeland Security Investigations. “The criminal organizations behind the importation, distribution and selling of these synthetic drugs have scant regard for human life in their reckless pursuit of illicit profits.”

In Pennsylvania, agents searched residences, convenience stores, gas stations, smoke shops and other similar businesses in several counties, including Montgomery and Philadelphia.

They seized more than 300,000 individual doses of synthetic marijuana and illegal bath salts, with an estimated street value of $1.25 million. They also recovered more than 50,000 pieces of drug paraphernalia related to the smoking or consumption of synthetic drugs and about $250,000 in cash and assets, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Over the past two years, the U.S. has seen a surge in the use of synthetic drugs made of legal chemicals that mimic the dangerous effects of cocaine, amphetamines and other illegal stimulants.

The drugs are often sold at small, independent stores in misleading packaging that suggests common household items. But the substances inside are powerful, mind-altering drugs that have been linked to bizarre and violent behavior across the country.

Law enforcement officials refer to the drugs collectively as “bath salts,” though they have nothing in common with the fragrant toiletries used to moisturize skin.

President Barack Obama signed a bill into law earlier this month that bans the sale, production and possession of more than two dozen of the most common bath salt drugs. But health professionals say that there are so many varieties of the drugs that U.S. lawmakers are always playing catch up.

“The moment you start to regulate one of them, they’ll come out with a variant that sometimes is even more potent,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Emergencies related to the drugs have surged: The American Association of Poison Control Centers received more than 6,100 calls about bath salt drugs in 2011 — up from just 304 the year before — and more than 1,700 calls in the first half of 2012.

In Montgomery County, coroner Dr. Walter Hoffman said four deaths have been attributed to the use of bath salt drugs — including a 28-year-old man and 15-year-old girl from Pottstown who were killed in a motor vehicle accident. All four people who died from the drugs were under 30 years old, he said. Bucks County Coroner Dr. Joseph Campbell said that no deaths in Bucks County have been directly attributed to bath salt use.

A Quakertown father has attributed his son’s suicide to mental health problems following bath salt use. And authorities said an Upper Moreland teen was severely injured when he jumped from the top level of the Willow Grove Park mall parking garage after smoking an unidentified synthetic drug.

Many states have banned some of the most common bath salt drugs. For instance, in June 2011, Pennsylvania legislators banned the possession, use and sale of synthetic “designer” drugs.

But while U.S. laws prohibit the sale or possession of all substances that mimic illegal drugs, that’s only true if federal prosecutors can show they’re intended for human consumption. People who make these drugs work around this by printing “not for human consumption” on packets.

Despite the bans, bath salts producers are constantly tweaking their recipes to come up with new drugs that aren’t covered by state or federal laws. In fact, Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, says there are so many different drugs out there that it’s almost impossible to know what people have ingested, or how long the effects will last.

“Cocaine is cocaine and meth is meth. We know what these things do,” he said. “But with these new drugs, every time the chemist alters the chemical structure, all bets are off.”

These drugs include synthetic marijuana substitutes, also known as “herbal incense.”

At one Doylestown store, the packages were marked “not for human consumption.” When the owner was asked if she knew people smoked the product, she said she doesn’t know anything about what customers do with it.

A man leaving the store with a vial of the synthetic “incense” in his hand said he smokes it because he’s on probation for a DUI charge.

“Before (my DUI), I would not have tried any of this stuff,” said the man, who asked that he not be identified. “Even switching over to this stuff now that I can’t smoke weed is demeaning to me.”

The most common bath salt drugs, like MDPV and mephedrone, were first developed in pharmaceutical research laboratories, though they were never approved for medical use. During the last decade, they became popular as party drugs in Europe. As law enforcement began cracking down on the problem there, the drugs spread across the Atlantic Ocean.

The most dangerous synthetic drugs are stimulants that affect levels of both dopamine and serotonin, brain chemicals that affect mood and perception. Users, who typically smoke or snort the powder-based drugs, may experience a surge in energy, fever and delusions of invincibility.

Hospital emergency rooms, doctors and law enforcement agencies across the country have struggled to control bath salt drug users who often are feverish and paranoid. Hospitals in Bucks and Montgomery counties said they’ve had cases of suspected bath salts abuse, but they aren’t tracked separately from other drug overdoses.

For hospital workers, bath salts problems grow


443499 Bath Salts main.jpg

Police remove boxes of evidence from Tebb’s Headshop on North Salina Street in Syracuse, N.Y., part of a statewide effort to target shops suspected of selling illegal synthetic drugs like bath salts, Wednesday, July 25, 2012. Federal, state and local law enforcement fanned out across the state today to raid shops suspected of selling illegal synthetic drugs, including “bath salts,” authorities said. (AP Photo/The Post-Standard, Lauren Long) NO SALES MAGS OUT, TV OUT, NO INTERNET

 

 

Hornell, N.Y. —

Emergency room workers say the patients can be scary when they come in. They exhibit strong hallucinations, psychosis and paranoia and, full of adrenaline, they are strong.

The number of patients who use bath salts jumped this year, St. James Mercy Hospital officials said. Since January, there have been eight cases; In June alone, there were four.

“It’s a very scary and unpredictable drug,” said Shannon Work, director of patient care services.

Bath salts are synthetic substances that often contain amphetamine-like chemicals, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Stimulants, they have a “high abuse and addiction liability,” and have a high risk for side effects, the NIDA said.

Bath salts have made headlines around the country and the state over the last year, noted for the strange behavior they cause.

In June, a Utica woman, reportedly on bath salts, lunged at a police officer and screamed she wanted to “kill someone and eat them,” according to reports from The Associated Press.

Local medical professionals said bath salts cause users to become paranoid and sometimes psychotic.

“We had a few, they felt like they were being chased or they wanted to hide in a small room,” Work said.

Ann Domingos, director of Mercycare Addiction and Treatment Center of Hornell, said she had a patient, who had used bath salts, break all the mirrors in his house “because he was paranoid and he couldn’t look at himself.”

For emergency room staff, it is often not immediately clear what is wrong with a patient who comes in after using bath salts. Unless the patient or a family member tells staff bath salts were used, medical staff must treat the symptoms they see.

“Often folks are admitted psychiatrically thinking they’re psychotic when after a few days or even a week or so of treatment you find out, once they start to clear up and stabilize, that there was bath salt use,” said Lisa Hooker, manager of psychiatric nursing services. “And originally, that might just present as a psychotic processing and you wouldn’t necessarily pick that up.”

Bath salts are difficult to test for because one brand may differ chemically from another, said Alexander Garrard, a clinical toxicologist for Upstate New York Poison Control.

“This is a synthetic substance, unlike meth or Ecstasy. When you say ‘bath salts,’ there are a number of different chemicals under that name,” he said.

“In order to detect something, you have to know what you’re looking for.”

Poison Control advises medical care providers how to deal with bath salts exposures, he said. So far this year, Poison Control has had 313 calls on bath salts; last year, it only had 118.

But medical professionals don’t necessarily need to know someone is on bath salts in order to give them treatment, Garrard said.

Work said doctors first stabilize patients’ vitals and then try to calm them using sedation.

“It’s a poison control nightmare … even after doses of sedation in an emergency setting, oftentimes it’s just enough to get them where we need them to be,” Work said.

At the same time, emergency room workers are also trying to deal with patients who are also paranoid or combative.

“The biggest problem is that these patients are very difficult to manage. They can be violent and unpredictable,” Garrard said.

Patients are sedated and sometimes restrained in order to minimize the harm they could cause, both to others and themselves.

“The real risk is self-harm because of the paranoia. Running out into traffic, jumping out a window,” Hooker said. “It kind of triggers that fight or flight for people and I think that’s a lot of where you see aggressive or assaultive behaviors.”

The drug can be ingested, smoked, snorted or injected. Work said some users develop cysts, necrosis or infections at injection sites.

Symptoms also seem to last longer with bath salts than other substances.

“Typically with some other drugs, like cocaine, you see the patient start to come down after several hours, and with bath salts we’re seeing it’s a period of days or even weeks before you start to see the psychosis and the side effect start to clear out,” Hooker said.

Treatment for bath salts addiction is similar to treatment for any other addiction, Domingos said.

She said bath salts users typically have problems with other controlled substances.

“I believe it’s generally the same population. If you’re going to try bath salts, you have tried other things,” Domingos said. “It would be rare, I think, for somebody to start out (and use bath salts).”

Long term consequences from bath salts are still unclear, perhaps because one brand of the drug can differ chemically from another. Work said she’s seen high blood pressure and Domingos has had patients in treatment report difficulties with their vision.

“One went two weeks in treatment closing one eye because he couldn’t see,” she said.

Laws banning the sale of bath salts were added nationally and on the state level this year. Part of the problem is that legislation isn’t addressing possession, said Norman McCumiskey, Steuben County Drug Free Communities coordinator.

“Laws are banning the sale of bath salts in stores throughout New York State,” he said. “In spite of that, they suspect a lot of these stores are still selling (bath salts).”

Last week, police raided head shops across upstate and central New York, including a store near Elmira, in a series of raids connected to bath salts, reports from The Associated Press said.

Earlier this month, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office filed lawsuits in 12 counties accusing 16 stores of violating state labelling laws.

“People that want it can still get it,” McCumiskey said.

For bath salt users, it can be a slippery slope into addiction.

“Patients report things like, ‘That was horrible, that was awful. I can’t wait to go do it again,'” Hooker said. “They get such vivid hallucinations, paranoia, but you can’t explain the process of ‘That was horrible, I can’t wait to go do it again,’ and get your head around that process.”

One time is enough to see serious medical consequences.

“It’s really crack on speed, so to speak. It’s another level,” Domingos said.

Bath salt incident draws police to Taunton Burger King


Taunton —

Police say an incident over the weekend at a local fast food restaurant illustrates the growing menace of so-called bath salts.

The synthetic designer drug, when smoked, snorted or injected, provides a cocaine or amphetamine-like intoxication that can cause hallucinations and paranoia.

Previously popular in Europe, the drug is sometimes sold domestically “under the counter” by unscrupulous convenience store or gas station owners, according to law enforcement authorities.
Taunton police at 9:45 p.m. Sunday responded to the Burger King at 294 Winthrop St. for a report of a distraught individual who was acting irrationally.

Employees and startled customers described how a man ran inside dripping of mud and water and screaming that someone was trying to kill him.

Bystanders allegedly told cops the man — later identified as 31-year-old Eric Conklin of 28 North Walker St. — then began stripping off his clothes, ran into the ladies room and locked himself in.

When an officer knocked on the bathroom door, the unclothed Conklin allegedly opened up and said, “Thank God you’re here.”

Police say during the past few weeks they’ve had numerous run-ins with Conklin, who allegedly has admitted using drugs known on the street as bath salts.

Each time, according to cops, Conklin has been highly agitated, sweating profusely, talking irrationally and claiming that someone is out to get him.

Conklin Sunday night was charged with disturbing the peace. The police report also notes that if he doesn’t get professional counseling and treatment chances are he’s likely to hurt himself or other people.

In May, a 31-year-old Miami man was shot to death after police said he chewed off chunks of flesh from the face of a 65-year-old homeless man.

Police initially suspected the attacker had been high on bath salts, but subsequent toxicology tests revealed marijuana, and not synthetic cathinones, was in his bloodstream when he brutalized the victim and threatened cops.

One night earlier this month, in Taunton, two people allegedly left their car in the middle of Summer Street and ran into the lobby of the police station claiming they had ingested bath salts.

The pair were taken to hospital where they were examined and released.

President Obama on July 9 signed a law identifying the active ingredients in bath salts as illegal. A total of 38 states now ban the sale of bath salts.

But products with names like Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave and Bliss continue to be sold in some places. Authorities in the past have said warning labels, stating the products are not suitable for human consumption, has made across-the-board enforcement difficult.

In Massachusetts the Legislature is expected to pass a measure effectively banning sale of bath-salt products.The House already passed an amendment categorizing as drug trafficking the sale of such amphetamines; the Senate, meanwhile, has until this Wednesday to act.

Taunton Police Chief Edward Walsh says he’s prepared to take measures if lawmakers fail to act. Walsh said if a state law isn’t adopted to ban the sale of bath salt-like crystals, he’ll introduce a municipal ordinance making it illegal.

State Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton, said the bath salt issue is “something we’re serious about.”

“I’ve heard a number of horror stories,” Pacheco said. “It’s being looked at very seriously.”

Managers and owners of four Taunton convenience stores on Monday insisted they don’t and never have sold bath salts, which can sell for anywhere between $15 and $35 per gram.

Alie Soufan, owner of Grampy’s Corner Store on High Street, said he’s never seen bath salts but occasionally is asked if he sells them.

Another store owner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said after he informed a customer he doesn’t sell bath salts, the man and a friend eventually came back with the drug and asked why he couldn’t keep it in stock.

Peter Ibrahim, owner of Pete’s Mart on County Street, said he’s been queried on occasion by police who suspect he might have sold the potentially deadly product.

Ibrahim, 30, said in the more than eight years he’s owned his store he’s never carried such an item.

“I’ve told them they can come in here with a search warrant if they want; I’ve got nothing to hide,” said Ibrahim, who blames unnamed local competitors with spreading rumors to damage his reputation.

As for the availability of bath salts in the Taunton area, Ibrahim said he knows of at least one storeowner who in the past has sold them under the table.