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12/19/13 7:00am

Morning Roundup: December 19, 2013

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By Shawn Dwyer

china's war on drugs

12/18/13 7:30pm

China Arrests 1,300 People For Selling Fake Drugs

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Photo via Shutterstock

In one of the largest mass drug arrests of 2013, Chinese police arrested 1,300 suspects for producing and selling fake prescription medication online. Roughly 140 illegal websites and online pharmacies in 29 provinces and cities throughout China have been shut down since last June, with 2.2 billion yuan ($362.4 million) worth of fake drugs and raw materials seized. The six-month crackdown was announced at the beginning of July by the cabinet’s State Food and Drug Administration.

The bogus drugs claimed to deal with illnesses ranging from heart problems to children’s colds and flus. The practice of selling fake drugs has become an epidemic throughout China in recent years; the  number of prosecutions totaled 8,000 last year, a five-fold increase from the previous year. But even when these medications are legitimate, they can still be contaminated. Beijing pledged to clean up their medicine sector in 2008 after 149 Americans died from taking contaminated Chinese supplies of the blood-thinner heparin in 2008.

Drug addiction has continued to skyrocket throughout China in the last 25 years, rising from 70,000 registered addicts to 1990 to 1.8 million in 2011. However, cultural shame surround addiction may even be masking the true numbers of addicts in China, which could be as high as 12 million. Approximately 600,000 people in China develop lung cancer every year, largely due to  the country being the top consumer of cigarettes in the world and burning through 50,000 cigarettes every second. Chinese officials have attempted to tackle the issue this year by announcing plans to turn the country’s infamous re-education labor camps into drug recovery centers.

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By McCarton Ackerman

try the molly special

12/18/13 5:30pm

Brooklyn Restaurant Owner Arrested for Selling Drugs

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Does he look like he deals in molly?
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Carl McCoy, the owner of the popular Brooklyn Eatery Gwynett St., claims that his arrest last week for sales of the synthetic drug Molly was all a big misunderstanding.

McCoy was caught when a package addressed to his restaurant and containing methylone was intercepted at the airport by federal agents.  When questioned, McCoy admitted that he had agreed to receive the package and then sell it to a drug dealer for $1,000.  The owner of the restaurant, which charges $120 per person for its tasting menu, was having money troubles.  In order to help the feds nab the dealer, McCoy agreed to wear a wire and stage a phony transaction.  McCoy met Omar Calixto Herrera to complete the drug deal and both men were arrested for possession.

McCoy has since been set free on $25,000 bail and, in a reversal of his earlier acknowledgment that he had entered into the drug business to make some extra money, is now proclaiming his innocence:  “At no time would I ever undertake the accused activities for personal or professional gain.”

Methylone is chemically similar to MDMA, and has received attention lately for being a “club drug” that has been linked to deaths in the New York rave scene.

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By Allison McCabe

dogs on drugs

12/18/13 3:30pm

Dogs in Australia Hooked on Psychedelic Toads

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Beware the cane toad menace.
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Dogs in Queensland, Australia are struggling with a new addiction, and it has nothing to do with bones or chew toys. Instead, dogs are getting high on toad sweat and, just like your run-of-the-mill human addicts, they are going to great lengths - risking health and life - to get their fix. The dogs hunt the toad in order to trigger the excretion of the poison hallucinogenic perspiration, and then they lick it.

Jonathan Cochrane of the University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science warns that some dogs have become “serial lickers,” and end up in the vet’s office for treatment several times a year. He cautions, however, that there’s no way to determine if your dog is tripping: "To say a dog or a cat is having an hallucination is impossible, but some do star gaze or track something across the room that isn't there and others just stare out of the cage while we're monitoring them," he said.

Wally, a two year old dachshund mix, is currently being kept indoors in order to minimize his exposure to the cane toad menace. After two confrontations with cane toads and an episode of frothing at the mouth, vets advised Wally’s owner, Nikita Den Engelse, to keep him inside. "I pretty much cried the whole time. I was thinking 'oh God'. I was concerned he was going to die," Engelse said.

As the wet season approaches with its increase in cane toad activity, owners are being cautioned to keep their dogs inside. This is especially important if your dog is a chronic relapser. "If your dog repeatedly gets poisoned by cane toads, you should consider keeping them inside, especially at night and when it is raining,” said Cairns Veterinary Clinic Veterinarian Dallas McMillan.

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By Allison McCabe

recovering celebs

12/18/13 1:30pm

Macaulay Culkin Reportedly Drug-Free Thanks To New Girlfriend

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On the road to recovery? Photo via

While 90s child star Macaulay Culkin faced rumors last year that he was in the throes of a gnarly heroin addiction, his new girlfriend is now reportedly helping him get clean. The actor and occasional DJ is now dating Jordan Lane Price, who has apparently been a good influence on him. ''For the first time in years Macaulay looks happy and healthy. Jordan has rescued him from his drug hell,” said a source. “She’s also made it clear that if he starts using again, she’s walking away.”

Although the Home Alone star was never confirmed to be a drug user, his noticeably skinny frame and disheveled appearance led to a National Enquirer report in August 2012 that he was spending $6,000 per month shooting up heroin and oxycodone and “could be dead within six months.” His reps denied the story by calling it “not only categorically without merit, but also impossibly and ridiculously fictitious.” A separate report from later that month also claimed that paramedics rushed to his apartment after he nearly overdosed from shooting up.

In recent months, Culkin has looked noticeably healthier and his pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band could mean that he’s regained his appetite. He also posted a video of himself last weekend to YouTube, doing nothing but eating a slice of pizza for four minutes.

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By McCarton Ackerman

islamic war on drugs

12/18/13 10:30am

Iran Hangs Drug Smuggler

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The mark of success...if you're Iran.
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An Iranian man convicted on drug smuggling charges was executed by hanging at a prison in the city of Qazvin. He was reportedly sentenced to death for carrying 500 grams of compressed heroin. Iran’s Judiciary Chief, Ayotallah Sadeq Arnoli Larijani, approved the death sentence in part because the man already had 13 criminal cases related to other drug charges. Trafficking drugs in excess of five kilograms are among the handful of crimes punishable by death in the country; Iranian law also allows the death penalty for a third conviction for drinking alcohol.

With neighboring Afghanistan serving as the world leader of opium trading and smuggling, Iran has spent about $1 billion annually in preventing drugs from entering the country, in addition to giving $50 million per year to Afghan anti-narcotics efforts. Despite only receiving just over $3 million in international aid each year for its own anti-narcotics efforts, Iran seizes eight times more opium and three times more heroin than all other countries in the world combined, according to figures from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 

Iran’s success with its anti-drug efforts, combined with Afghanistan’s drug trafficking problem, have led to some Iranian leaders declaring they no longer want outside help in tackling the issue. Iran's Deputy Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Rayeesi blamed the US and NATO for Afghanistan’s 40-fold increase in drug production since the US invaded the country in 2001. He believes outside interference in resolving a regional problem is unnecessary, and that only Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan should work together to settle the issue. "The main reason for the considerable increase in narcotics is the presence of foreign forces, specially the US and NATO, and today drug production and trade are done under the control and supervision of the Americans," said Rayeesi.

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By McCarton Ackerman

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