SPICE IN THE CITY: NEW YORK DEA LEADS HUGE ATTACK
AGAINST SYNTHETIC DRUG TRAFFICKERS
Money flow from synthetic drug sales to Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan continues
Contact: DEA Public Affairs (202) 307-7977
MANHATTAN, N.Y.- DEA, NYPD and a host of other state, local and federal agencies today announced a massive takedown that targeted the local sale of dangerous designer synthetic drugs manufactured in China. The scheme, which operated in all five boroughs of New York City, allegedly involved the unlawful importation of at least 100 kilograms of illegal synthetic compounds, an amount sufficient to produce approximately 1,300 kilograms of dried product, or approximately 260,000 retail packets. As part the operation, five processing facilities were searched, as well as warehouses used to process, store, and distribute the drugs. In addition, over 80 stores and bodegas around New York City were searched.
Communities, families, and individuals across the United States have experienced the scourge of designer synthetic drugs, which are often marketed as herbal incense, bath salts, jewellery cleaner, or plant food. These dangerous drugs have caused significant abuse, addiction, overdoses, and emergency room visits. Those who have abused synthetic drugs have suffered vomiting, anxiety, agitation, irritability, seizures, hallucinations, tachycardia, elevated blood pressure, and loss of consciousness. They have caused significant organ damage as well as overdose deaths. Over the past several years, DEA has identified over 400 designers drugs from eight different structural classes, the vast majority of which are manufactured in China. Smoke able synthetic cannabinoids (SSC) represent the most common class of designer drugs. In addition, DEA cases involving synthetic drugs often reveal the movement of drug proceeds from the United States to Middle East countries such as Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. ……..
DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said: “There is a misconception that synthetic cannabinoids, known on the street as ‘synthetic marijuana,’” ‘K2,’ and ‘spice,’ are safe. Synthetic cannabinoids are anything but safe. They are a toxic cocktail of lethal chemicals created in China and then disguised as plant material here in New York City. Today’s arrests represent law enforcement’s efforts to combat this emerging public threat. By investigating and arresting manufacturers and distributors of ‘spice’ in the city, we have cut off the accessibility for those feeding the beast.”
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Today, we launch an aggressive assault on a public health crisis that is reaching epidemic proportions: the scourge of dangerous new drugs that are killing people and sending thousands upon thousands to emergency rooms in New York City and around the country. Despite sometimes being called synthetic marijuana, this is not marijuana – it can have unpredictably severe and even lethal effects. What is more, use of these drugs aggravates all manner of other societal ills: it is entering prisons; preying on the homeless; burdening our hospitals and emergency rooms; fuelling addiction; exacerbating mental health problems; and increasing risks to cops who must deal with people high on this poison. Synthetic cannabinoids are a deadly serious problem that demands an equally serious response. Today’s collective action is just the start of that response, one that will not end until this poison in a packet no longer endangers our community.”
NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said: “This is a scourge on our society, affecting the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods and our most challenged citizens. It affects teenagers in public housing, homeless in the city shelter system, and it’s quite literally flooding our streets. This is marketed as synthetic marijuana, some call it K2. It is sold by the names of Galaxy, Diamond, Rush, and Matrix. But its real name is poison.”
HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Glenn Sorge said: “Synthetic marijuana is rapidly becoming a huge problem in our communities. It is cheap and dangerous, especially for our teens and young adults. We are working side by side with our law enforcement partners both here and abroad to combat the sale of this hazardous alternative to marijuana.”
Sheriff Joseph Fucito said: “The Sheriff’s Office stands ready with our partners in law enforcement in addressing the sudden proliferation of synthetic drugs sales in licensed retail locations throughout New York City. Owners and operators of licensed locations have an obligation to keep illegal and highly dangerous substances out of the hands of our children. The Sheriff’s Office is committed to agency partnerships and enforcement strategies that advance this goal.”
…….The SSC retail packets were sold under names such as “AK-47,” “Blue Caution,” “Green Giant,” “Geeked Up,” “Psycho,” “Red Eye,” and “Black Extreme,” each containing between approximately three and six grams of product, and sometimes marked “not for human consumption,” or “potpourri.” The illegal SSC retail packets were sold to individual customers for approximately $5 per packet.
.SSC are widely accessible because they are inexpensive and commonly sold at otherwise legitimate retail locations. The colorful logos used on the SSC retail packets and the flavors used, such as lime, strawberry, and blueberry, make SSC attractive to teenagers and young adults. Physical effects of SSC include agitation, rapid heart rate, confusion, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, paranoia, panic attacks, and acute kidney injury. In addition, SSC products have inconsistent potencies, often containing more than one synthetic compound, and are sometimes laced with other toxic chemicals. In a recent two-month period, use of SSC resulted in 2,300 emergency room visits in New York State. Nationally, calls to poison centers in the United States related to synthetic cannabinoid use between January and May 2015 increased 229% over the same period in 2014.
Source: Press Release US Drug Enforcement Administration. 16th Sept. 2016