Law enforcement agencies have cracked down on the illegal designer drug trade and have carried out more than 150 arrest warrants and nearly 375 search warrants in 35 U.S. states and five countries including Canada, Panama, Barbados and Australia. In just three days, more than 770 pounds of synthetic drugs were seized, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) said.
It is because new designer drugs are untested and unknown, that they can pose unforeseen risks, including vomiting, seizures, loss of consciousness and overdose deaths, the DEA said in a statement. What is truly alarming is the number of emergency room visits associated with designer drugs ̶ 28,531 in 2011, which is more than twice the number of the year before, the agency said. The drugs are offered in colorful packages mostly to young adults and are sold with such names as “Rush,” “Spice” and “Mister Happy,” DEA officials said.
Designer synthetic drugs are usually offered on the street or in stores as bath salts, incense, plant food or jewelry cleaner. The issue lies with what is in these drugs, which is usually plant material combined with psychoactive compounds act like THC, the active ingredient of marijuana, the DEA said.
Where are these designer stimulants coming from? According to Derek Maltz, special agent in charge of the DEA’s special operations division, the source of the synthetic drugs was Asia, especially India and China, he said. Sales of the drugs have also been traced back to the Middle East, the DEA reported.
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