Cattle-Worming Drug Found In British Cocaine

By John Lavitt 04/23/14

Authorities issued an alert saying 80 percent of cocaine seized in the UK has been cut with Levamisole, a cattle deworming drug that allegedly rots human skin.

Got skin rot? Shutterstock

Designed to deworm sick cattle, the veterinary drug Levamisole has been discovered in 80 percent of cocaine seized by authorities in Great Britain. Not designed for human consumption, potential side effects of Levamisole include skin rot and white blood cell suppression. South American cartels use it to cut the cocaine because the veterinary drug is inexpensive while having a coke-like stimulant effect.

In a government-issued alert, British authorities warned that the veterinary drug can have catastrophic effects. Since 80 percent of the cocaine in the country is laced with Levamisole, the warning is ultra-serious. This deadly drug can cause skin to rot away like necrotizing fasciitis, known as the infamous flesh-eating bacteria.

Once used as a topical cancer treatment, Levamisole was banned after the discovery that it caused the death of healthy skin tissue. Levamisole can rot the skin off the noses, ears, and cheeks of cocaine users who have unwittingly come into contact with it. Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said, “People taking these drugs are playing Russian roulette with their lives.”

U.S. drugs officials sounded the warning in 2011 after the flesh-eating side effects of adulterated cocaine appeared in New York and Los Angeles. A case study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology described six cocaine users with dark purple patches of dying flesh. According to Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist with the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, the grisly wounds were actually an immune reaction that attacks the blood vessels supplying the skin.

The challenge is that the drug’s stimulant qualities have made it a convenient adulterant for the drug cartels in Latin America. As a result, cocaine traffickers use Levamisole to save money before shipping cocaine to Europe. Previously, cocaine had arrived in Britain unadulterated for British dealers to cut. Now the cocaine apparently is being cut by the cartels at the source before leaving Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Bolivia. Levamisole is cheap in South America and commonly used in agriculture.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.