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.

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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.

Rudy Eugene’s Toxicology Report: Experts speculate on what caused ‘face-chewing’ attack


CBS/AP) MIAMI – Experts are still speculating about what may have caused Rudy Eugene’s face-chewing attack on Ronald Poppo in Miami last month. A toxicology report on Wednesday failed to find “bath salts” and other major street drugs in Eugene’s system.

Pictures: Fla. police identify “face-eating” naked man

The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner said in a news release that the toxicology detected marijuana but it didn’t find any other street drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs. Eugene also tested negative for adulterants commonly mixed with street drugs.

An expert on toxicology testing said marijuana alone wasn’t likely to cause behavior as strange as Eugene’s.

“The problem today is that there is an almost an infinite number of chemical substances out there that can trigger unusual behavior,” said Dr. Bruce Goldberger, Professor and Director of Toxicology at the University of Florida.

There has been much speculation about what drugs, if any, would lead to the bizarre May 26 attack at a Miami causeway that left Poppo, 65, missing about 75 percent of his face. The tests ruled out the suggestion that 35-year-old Eugene may have been under the influence of bath salts, which mimic the effects of cocaine or methamphetamine and have been associated with bizarre crimes in recent months.

An outside forensic toxicology lab, which took a second look at the results, also confirmed the absence of bath salts, synthetic marijuana and LSD.

Goldberger said the medical examiner’s office in Miami is known for doing thorough work and he’s confident they and the independent lab covered as much ground as possible. But it’s nearly impossible for toxicology testing to keep pace with new formulations of synthetic drugs.

“There are many of these synthetic drugs that we currently don’t have the methodology to test on, and that is not the fault of the toxicology lab. The challenge today for the toxicology lab is to stay on top of these new chemicals and develop methodologies for them but it’s very difficult and very expensive.” Goldberger said. “There is no one test or combination of tests that can detect every possible substance out there.”

An addiction expert said she wouldn’t rule out marijuana causing the agitation.

“It could have been the strain of marijuana that increases the dopamine in the brain, such as sativa,” said Dr. Patricia Junquera, assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

There are two strains of marijuana called sativa and indica. The sativa increases dopamine and gives you energy while decreasing pain threshold. Indica is a “sleepy high,” she explained.

“People don’t really know what the amount of either is in each little packet of marijuana,” she explained. “And we can’t differentiate between the two in the blood, much less in a dead person.”

She also suggested that if Eugene had a mental disorder, “the marijuana could have increased even further the dopamine levels and aggravated the situation. So that can’t be ruled out.”

Eugene’s friends and family have said he was religious, not violent and that he didn’t drink or do drugs harder than marijuana, so they are baffled as to what caused Eugene’s brutal assault against the homeless victim.

“There’s no answer for it, not really,” said Marckenson Charles, Eugene’s younger brother. “Anybody who knew him knows this wasn’t the person we knew him to be. Whatever triggered him, there is no answer for this.”

Charles said the family does not plan to pursue any legal action against the police for shooting Eugene on the day of the face-chewing attack. Surveillance video from a nearby building shows Eugene stripping Poppo and pummeling him. The police officer who shot Eugene to death reportedly said Eugene growled at the officer when he told him to stop.

“They used the force they felt was necessary even if we don’t agree with that,” Charles said.

He said Eugene has been buried.

Poppo has undergone several surgeries and remains hospitalized. His left eye was removed, but doctors said earlier this month they were trying to find a way to restore vision in his right eye. He will need more surgeries before he can explore the options for reconstructing his face, doctors have said.

Senator Griffo and Assemblyman Braunstein unveil anti-bath salts bill to toughen penalties


State Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R/C/IP -Rome), supported by Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside),have unveiled new legislation designed to meet the rising use of the drugs with legislation that will help protect the public. The legislation is also supported by Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi (D/WF/IP-Utica), in response to an escalation of bath salts use in his district.

“In 2011, we took a strong role to address the issue of these hallucinogenic drugs being sold in New York, and we passed a good law that Gov. Cuomo signed last July. However, what we are seeing in recent days is a dramatic upsurge in incidents in which the violent, bizarre behavior of individuals who have confronted the police is being linked to their use of these drugs. As such, I am going to be working with my partners in the Senate, Assembly and Governor’s office to pass legislation that will take stronger action, because I believe the response to what we are seeing is to take even stronger measures to protect families and our law enforcement personnel,” Griffo said.

“Between the time we developed last year’s legislation and this summer, we have seen an explosion of synthetic drugs that are causing serious law enforcement, health and mental health problems for communities and families across New York State,” said Braunstein. “Our goal with this new legislation is to respond to the concerns addressed to us by law enforcement and develop a bill that will give them the tools needed to crack down harder in order to end the widespread misuse of these drugs.”

“One of the reasons the use of bath salts has skyrocketed in recent weeks is its easy availability,” said Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi (D/WF/IP-Utica.) “I am joining with Senator Griffo and Assemblyman Braunstein as a sponsor on this legislation, because I believe it will make it much more difficult for store owners to sell these products. When people use these drugs, they often become violent and irrational, and this has become a serious public safety issue. It is important that we get the message across to store owners and individuals that if they sell these products, they can face significant criminal penalties.”

The new bill would classify substituted cathinones (these products, often referred to as “bath salts”, are chemically related to methamphetamines and ecstasy – which are both classified as stimulants) as Schedule I stimulant controlled substances and create a Statewide substituted Cathinone Surrender Program to allow for surrender of these harmful substances to appropriate authorities. Griffo noted that his initial legislation criminalized the sale of “bath salt” products containing Mephedrone and MDPV. Since then, a current practice of making minor alterations to chemicals to subvert statutes that prohibit distinct chemicals made it possible for slightly altered “bath salt” products to continue to be sold in New York State. Braunstein noted that in this new legislation, by adding substituted cathinones to the CSA based on foundational chemical structures, this loophole of chemical alteration would be closed. Not only will this bill provide criminal sanctions, but also makes it a felony to sell such product to a minor or on school grounds

Senator Griffo praised Assemblyman Braunstein, who has sponsored previous bills on bath salts with him, and also Assemblyman Brindisi for his support for laws in response to the dangerous increase in bath salts use.

“There is a can-do spirit in Albany that says when there is a public safety priority to address, we work as partners and we move as fast as we can and we work as hard as we can to get results,” Griffo said. “Assemblyman Braunstein’s efforts will help make New York safer. I appreciate the partnership with Assemblyman Brindisi so that we can move this bill swiftly through both chambers when we return to Albany. Protecting the people knows no party lines.”

“I am proud to work together again with Senator Joseph A. Griffo, to pass this bill, which would strengthen our previous legislation by preventing drug dealers from evading the law by changing the chemical composition of ‘bath salts.’ These dangerous meth-like drugs have caused numerous violent and tragic incidents throughout the country and we must take stronger action against ‘bath salts’ in order to protect the public as well as law enforcement officers,” Assemblyman Braunstein said.

According to UPSTATE Medical University and the Upstate New York Poison Center “bath salts” is a common term used for man-made stimulant (upper) drugs that are similar to “ICE” methamphetamine (or crystal meth). Since they are very similar to other stimulant (upper) drugs like meth (amphetamine), they are very dangerous when used. “Bath salts” can be snorted, smoked, or even put in water and injected using a needle. They come in a variety of different and attractive packaging with enticing names like “Cloud Nine”, “White Lightening.” “Purple Rain”, “Pixie Dust”, and many more. These drugs stimulate the nervous system (brain) and the cardiac system (heart). Severe symptoms may occur including convulsions, seizures, chest pain, excessive sweating, hallucination, anger/violence, suicidal thoughts and action. The use of “bath salts” can cause heart attacks, permanent brain damage and scary hallucinations that can last for days or even weeks. Behavior can result in suicide or the harm to or killing of others. The Upstate New York Poison Center has received 198 cases of reported incidents related to “bath salts” so far in 2012. Central New York has been particularly hard hit, with Oneida County having 36 cases in 2012, as opposed to 8 in 2011; Onondaga County 35 (9 in 2011); Oswego County 17 Cases (10 in 2011); and Madison County having 15 cases (none in 2011).

Griffo said, “These so-called ‘bath salts’ are not the same as aromatic bath salts. They contain a potentially lethal mix of synthetic drugs and serve no purpose other than to get the user high. My legislation sought to ban these dangerous substances so we may help keep our young people safe and give our law enforcement the authority to rid our State of these dangerous drugs. What we are finding since the law took effect is that more action is needed because of the incidents taking place across Central New York.”

Braunstein added: “Dangerous substances are being marketed under many names, but the result is the same – damaging effects to the user and potentially dangerous situations for the police and community. Our new bill will help to stop this epidemic.”

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.”

Pinellas officials considering banning bath salts and some incenses


In their latest salvo in the on-going struggle against synthetic marijuana, Pinellas County officials are seeking to ban the sale of bath salts and certain herbal incense products.

The proposed ordinance is an attempt to close the loophole created when Florida banned more than 90 chemicals used in synthetic marijuana. County officials said that by the time those products were off the shelves, drugmakers had already adapted by concocting new, legal cocktails that are as dangerous as their predecessors.

“What we want to do is make sure that we took the opportunity to close those gaps to ensure those things don’t come growing back,” said Tim Burns, the county’s director of Justice and Consumer Services.

In addition to banning synthetic marijuana, bath salts and kratom — a lesser-known substance that comes from a tropical plant — the ordinance would establish a five-person committee responsible for reviewing new products and possibly banning those as well.

Today, the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners will vote on whether to hold a public hearing on the proposed regulations.

Leo Calzadilla, who owns three tobacco shops in Pinellas County and is planning to open a fourth, said he would protest the ordinance. When state law banned a variety of products, he changed what he sold, he said. But the race to pass new ordinances and outfox manufacturers seems pointless to him, as well as bad for business.

“Herbal incense is sold as herbal incense,” he said. “That’s what it’s intended for. … What people do with it is their prerogative.”

Many of the synthetic marijuana products are labeled “not for consumption,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, adding that this was “intellectually dishonest.”

Manufacturers know that teenagers buy their products intending to smoke or ingest them, he said. The drugs can cause extreme euphoria, as well as hallucinations and seizures. And there have been several high-profile instances in which teenagers died or were injured while under the influence of those substances.

Gualtieri said he is distributing letters to store owners, asking them to voluntarily drop the synthetic drugs from their inventories.

Randy Heine, owner of Rockin Cards & Gifts, a tobacco shop in Pinellas Park, said he would not object to banning synthetic marijuana, though this should be done at a state level, he said. But kratom is another matter.

Heine sells kratom leaves for smoking, kratom powder for making tea, and kratomite, a liquid concoction he described as a “relaxer.”

“I’ve been selling it steadily for 30 years without a problem, zero, nada, nothing,” he said. “There’s minimal reports of problems, compared to coffee, aspirin, cigarettes, and nobody has died of this; it’s just hysteria.”

“I’ve got to confess I don’t even know what it is,” Gualtieri said. “It’s not on my radar.”

But Burns maintained that kratom is an emerging product, one that might not be well-known to law enforcement officials now, but is poised to replace the synthetic drugs the county is hoping to banish.

The county’s proposed ordinance cites Thailand’s decision to outlaw kratom, as well as the substance’s inclusion on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of drugs and chemicals of concern as reason for banning it in Pinellas.

County officials also have proposed new regulations that would require stores selling glass pipes and bongs to post large warning signs on the front of their buildings.

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.

Drugs Stay Legal After ‘Bath Salts’ Ban


  • bath salts.jpg
    AP Photo/The Patriot-News, Chris Knight

It’s the same old story.  People making up new ways to get high while lawmakers attempt to catch up to the ever-changing, ever-growing drug culture.

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 like bath salts, incense and plant food. 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 lawmakers cannot keep pace with bath salt producers, who constantly adjust their chemical formulations to come up with new synthetic drugs that aren’t covered by new laws. Experts who have studied the problem estimate there are more than 100 different bath salt chemicals in circulation.

“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.

There are no back alleys or crack houses in America’s latest drug epidemic. The problem involves potent substances that amateur chemists make, package and sell in stores under brands like “Ivory Wave,” ”Vanilla Sky” and “Bliss” for as little as $15. 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.

The problem for lawmakers is that it’s difficult to crack down on the drugs. U.S. laws prohibit the sale or possession of all substances that mimic illegal drugs, but only if federal prosecutors can show that they are intended for human use. People who make bath salts and similar drugs work around this by printing “not for human consumption” on virtually every packet.

Barbara Carreno, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Agency, said the intended use for bath salts is clear.

“Everyone knows these are drugs to get high, including the sellers,” she said.

Many states have banned some of the most common bath salts, which are typically sold by small businesses like convenience stores, tobacco shops and adult book stores. For instance, West Virginia legislators banned the bath salt drug MDPV last year, making it a misdemeanor to sell, buy or possess the synthetic drug. Conviction means up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Stephanie Mitchell, assistant manager of The Den, a tobacco and paraphernalia shop in Morgantown, W.Va., said the store hasn’t sold bath salts in the six months that she’s worked there. But strung-out users still come in and ask for them.

“They’re pretty … cracked out, I guess would be a good word,” said Mitchell, 21, a student at West Virginia University. “They’re just kind of not all there. They’re kind of sketchy people.”

Mitchell says she wouldn’t sell bath salts even if she had them, “because it’s horrible, and I could get in trouble for it.”

Despite the bans, bath salts producers are constantly tweaking their recipes to come up with new drugs that aren’t covered by local 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.”

The Spread

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 at European raves and dance clubs. As law enforcement began cracking down on the problem there, the drugs spread across the Atlantic Ocean.

Poison control centers in the U.S. began tracking use of the drugs in 2010. The majority of the early reports of drug use were clustered in Southern states like Louisiana, Tennessee and Kentucky. But the problem soon spread across the country.

The financial lure for small-time drugmakers is enticing. The drugs can be cheaply imported from China or India, and then easily packaged under local brands. For example, bath salts sold in Louisiana carry regional names like Hurricane Charlie or Bayou.

The widespread availability of the drugs in stores is equally alluring for drug users: they can get a cheap high similar to that of illegal drugs by walking to a corner store.

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.

Use of these drugs has spread across the country with reports stretching from Maine to California. There are no official federal estimates on deaths connected with the drugs, many of which do not show up on typical drug tests. But police reports have implicated the drugs in several cases.

Packets of “Lady Bubbles” bath salts, for instance, were found on Sgt. David Franklyn Stewart last April after the solider shot and killed his wife and himself during a car chase with law enforcement near Olympia, Wash.

The chase began when Stewart sped past a police patrol car at 6 a.m. The police trooper pursued for 10 miles and reported seeing the driver raise a hand to his head, then heard a shot and saw the driver slump over. The next day police found the couple’s 5-year-old son dead in their home; he had been suffocated with a plastic bag at least 24 hours earlier.

Another death involving bath salts played out in Covington, La. Police reported that Dickie Sanders, 21, shot himself in the head Nov. 11, 2010 while his parents were asleep.

His father, Dr. Richard Sanders, said his son had snorted “Cloud 9” bath salts and endured three days of intermittent delirium, at one point attempting to cut his own throat. As he continued to have visions, his physician father tried to calm him. But the elder Sanders said that as he slept, his son went into another room and shot himself.

What’s Ahead

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 that they are being attacked. Doctors say users often turn up naked because bath salts raise their body temperature so much that they strip off their clothing.

Cookeville Regional Medical Center in Tennessee has treated 160 people suspected of taking bath salts since 2010. Dr. Sullivan Smith, who works there, said people on the drugs become combative, and it can take four or five health professionals to subdue them. In some cases, he said, doctors have to use prescription sedatives that are typically reserved for surgery.

Smith recalls one man who had been running for more than 24 hours because he believed the devil was chasing him with an ax. By the time police brought him to the hospital, he was dehydrated and covered in blood from running through thorny underbrush.

“We’re seeing extreme agitation, hallucinations that are very vivid, paranoia and some really violent behavior, so it’s a real crisis for us,” Smith said. “We sedate the living daylights out of them. And we’re talking doses on the order of 10 or 20 times what you would give for a painful procedure.”

To control the spread of the problem, the Drug Enforcement Agency issued a temporary ban in October on three of the most common drugs — mephedrone, methylone and MDPV. That ban became permanent under the bill signed by Obama on July 10.

Under the law, anyone convicted of selling, making or possessing 28 synthetic drugs, including bath salts, will face penalties similar to those for dealing traditional drugs like cocaine and heroin.

Those on the front lines say the legislation is a good start. But they don’t expect new laws to dramatically curb use of bath salts in the near term.

“The problem is these drugs are changing and I’m sure they’re going to find some that are a little bit different chemically so they don’t fall under the law,” said Dr. Smith, the Tennessee doctor. “Is it adequate to name five or 10 or even 20? The answer is no, they’re changing too fast.”

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/health/2012/07/26/drugs-stay-legal-after-bath-salts-ban/#ixzz22DSc4GkX

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.