Federal drug agents say candy-flavored cocaine is a new and troubling development and are hoping to keep it from spreading to the rest of the country after its recent emergence in California.
Drug rings have occasionally sold cocaine mixed with candy powder, but investigators said the new product was significantly more sophisticated and lucrative. Cocaine cut with an added flavoring is less potent, but the 1½ pounds seized in April were a full-strength powder into which strawberry, coconut, lemon and cinnamon flavoring had been chemically synthesized.
Gordon Taylor, the DEA’s assistant special agent in charge of the investigation, called the emergence of the candy-flavored cocaine especially disturbing because it suggested that manufacturers and pushers were developing more sophisticated techniques to appeal to children and teenagers.
“Attempting to lure new, younger customers to a dangerous drug by adding candy flavors is an unconscionable marketing technique,” Taylor said. He said it was vital that law enforcement authorities work together quickly to shut down operations that could spread the new drug to other parts of the country.
Taylor and other DEA agents said their next steps would be critical, as the flavored drug, apparently intended to appeal to children and women, had not been seen elsewhere in the country.
But this seizure is believed to mark the first time that distributors have managed to directly fuse flavoring into the powder itself, and it raises the stakes in a relatively new front in the war on street drugs.
A new twist on Crystal Meth production includes adding Nestle Strawberry Quick. The Crystal Meth produced this way is being referred to as “Strawberry Quick” or “Strawberry Quik”. There are other flavors too including chocolate, cola and other sodas. And the DEA says that one agent reported a red methamphetamine that had been marketed as a powdered form of an energy drink. Reports of candy-flavored methamphetamine are emerging around the nation, stirring concern among police and abuse prevention experts that drug dealers are marketing the drug to younger people.
Drug traffickers are trying to lure in new customers, no matter what their age, by making the meth seem less dangerous when in fact it is just as poisonous and dangerous. Strawberry Quick looks like hard candy, bits and pieces of chunky red lollipop or pop-rocks. In reality, it’s highly-addictive methamphetamine. Strawberry Quick is popular among new users who snort it because the flavoring can cut down on the taste. Teenagers who have been taught meth is bad may see this flavored version as less harmful. ‘Strawberry Quick’ is designed for the younger crowd. Traffickers know that the word is out about what a horrible drug meth is. They are having a tough time selling this product, especially to young people. What do people in marketing do when they have a tough time selling a product? They have to come up with some sort of gimmick.
There is one bit of good news in all this: Methamphetamine use is down for much of the country for the second year running. Researchers say it appears this latest meth epidemic reached its peak in 2004 and 2005, and data from the federal government shows the number of first-time meth users has steadily declined in recent years. The number of people 12 and older who used methamphetamine for the first time in the previous year decreased from 318,000 people in 2004 to 192,000 people in 2005, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In 2006, there were an estimated 731,000 current users of methamphetamine aged 12 or older (0.3 percent of the population). Of the 259,000 people who used methamphetamine for the first time in 2006, the mean age at first use was 22.2 years, which is up considerably from the mean age of 18.6 in 2005. The use of meth in 12-17 year olds is still falling, but it seems that from 2005 to 2006, lifetime methamphetamine abuse increased among those 26 and older, particularly among those 26–34 years of age.
Our work is no where near done, but the stats are getting better. I believe that this trend is due to the fact that Drug and Law enforcement agencies took notice of how bad it was getting and in 2004 stepped up their efforts to combat Methamphetamine use and manufacturing.
Few are surprised that a phenomenon such as strawberry-flavored drugs appears to have originated in California, whose drug dealers have a history of colorful marketing tactics aimed at kids.
In March 2006, DEA agents raided several warehouses near Oakland belonging to Beyond Bomb, a company that manufactured an entire line of marijuana-laced snacks and soft drinks.
Authorities uncovered thousands of marijuana plants, as well as an array of products, among them “Pot Tarts,” candy called “Stoney Ranchers,” drinks named “Toka Cola” and chocolate named “Rasta Reece’s” and “Buddafingers.”
As the case progressed, some argued that the operation was simply providing products to medical marijuana patients, who are allowed to take marijuana with a prescription under California law. But federal authorities say marijuana use is illegal under all circumstances.
“In a way, this case sort of answers the question, ‘What will they think of next?’ ” said Javier Pena, special agent in charge of the Oakland DEA office at the time of the busts at Beyond Bomb.
“What so many people don’t realize is that innocent children may somehow get their hands on these products and think they are just normal candy or soft drinks.”
Authorities were tipped to the operation in October 2005 and eventually arrested Kenneth Affolter of Lafayette, Calif., and several employees.
In March, a federal judge in California sentenced Mr. Affolter to nearly six years in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
A cheap, but highly addictive drug known as “cheese heroin” has killed many teenagers in the Dallas, Texas area over the past couple of years. The number of deaths that cheese was known to be the cause of sits at 40, but it is hard for coroners to tell exactly what specific drug is the cause of death, so the lives taken by “cheese heroin” could be higher than 40.
Cheese Heroin is a blend of “black-tar heroin” (which is about 30% pure heroin) and is combined with over-the-counter medications that contain the antihistamine diphenhydramine (found in Tylenol PM). Cheese samples obtained in north Dallas, Texas contained between 2% and 8% heroin. The sedative effects of the heroin and the nighttime sleep aid makes quite a deadly brew.
Monty Moncibais is a Dallas, Texas detective that had this to say about cheese heroin, “A double whammy – you’re getting two downers at once.” “If you take the body and you start slowing everything down, everything inside your body, eventually you’re going to slow down the heart until it stops and, when it stops, you’re dead.”
The DEA is concerned about this drug trend spreading to other cites, so they are working hard to educate everyone about cheese heroin. They are also trying to identify the traffickers of this new brew.
I find it very alarming to know that middle schoolers are using this drug and that they think its “kewl”. This is very scary; it tells me that most of these kids are doomed to become drug addicts. It also shows that our education on the dangers of drugs is lackluster and Ineffective. Now I’m not slamming anyone who tries to educate our youth about the dangers of drugs, but obviously what we are currently doing just isn’t cutting it. I believe that the only way for drug education to be effective is to truthfully convey the danger, like I mean “True Bluntness”. We need to almost scare them with the truth of what drugs do and what they lead to.
Now I’m not saying take some 5th graders and scare the hell out of them with a bunch of facts. No, no. We should use a gradient that is increased each year through out there schooling. That means that data is going to stick, because each year they will get more and more pieces of the puzzle, more significance of what it means to them and their future survival. So I say have several assemblies a year, every year. Starting in elementary school (I think I was in 4th grade when I had my first D.A.R.E. assembly) and all the way up till senior year of high school.