Feds Launch Biggest Ever Crackdown on Synthetic Drugs

By McCarton Ackerman 06/27/13

The DEA seizes 770 lbs. of synthetic drugs in a sweep of 35 US states and five countries.

synthetic bust2 May 2012.JPG
Synthetic drugs' colorful packaging aims to
entice young buyers.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has confirmed that US authorities are launching their biggest ever crackdown on designer drugs. More than 770 pounds of synthetic psychoactive substances have been seized in the last three days, with law enforcement officers carrying out more than 150 arrest warrants and nearly 375 search warrants in 35 US states and five countries on Wednesday. Since the crackdown was launched last December, more than 75 arrests have been made and nearly $15 million in cash and assets seized, with additional operations conducted in Canada, Australia, Panama and Barbados. "It's specifically marketed for the most vulnerable part of our society," said James Capra, the DEA's chief of operations. Many of the drugs, which come in colorful packages with cheerful names like "Rush" and "Mister Happy," are commonly sold to teens and young adults in stores and on the street. Capra also confirmed that millions of dollars in synthetic drug sales have been traced back to the countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. Though he declined to link the sales to anti-American terrorist groups, he said these groups have relied on drug sales as a source of funds in the past. A UN report yesterday showed that synthetic drug use is booming across the globe. Hospital visits related to the drug have also sharply increased; the DEA reports that synthetic drug emergency room visits totaled 28,531 in 2011, more than double the year before.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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