Pubdate: Sat, 08 Jun 2013
Source: Telegram, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2013 The Telegram
Author: Barb Sweet


RCMP speculates the difficulty in detecting them in workplace tests
could be behind their popularity

The rise in popularity of synthetic drugs in the province is the top
concern for an RCMP officer tasked with drug and organized crime
awareness. The rise in popularity of synthetic drugs in the province
is the top concern for an RCMP officer tasked with drug and organized
crime awareness.

And those drugs include a variety of the highly addictive substance
known as bath salts.

"Absolutely, because there is not enough known about some of them,"
said Sgt. Stephen Conohan, the RCMP provincial co-ordinator for drugs
and organized crime awareness, and the lead instructor on clandestine
drug labs. "Minute quantities can cause very adverse reactions."

Conohan speculates they are popular because they can slip past
workplace drug tests.

"A lot of these can't be detected unless specifically testing for
them," he said.

"The fact that there might be a lot of people working in industries
where there is urine testing might be a motivator for bringing in more
synthetics. There has to be a reason that all these synthetics are
showing up."

The synthetics, as well as the additives included in cocaine to
stretch distributers' profits, are contributing - along with the rest
of the illegal drug trade - to apprehension about what 2013 will bring.

Recently The Telegram reported that 2012 was the deadliest year yet
for overdose deaths in this province, based on numbers supplied by
chief medical examiner Dr. Simon Avis.

There were 13 known drug overdose deaths in 2012, the highest number
ever in a single year.

As the toll on drug users escalates, so has drug-related

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said this week it believes a
drive-by shooting in a St. John's subdivision, which targeted the
wrong house, is connected to a suspicious firebombing and the local
drug trade. Early on May 31, a fire on Hamilton Avenue damaged two
homes, as well as a Mercedes-Benz and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle
parked in the driveway.

Late that night, two homes and three vehicles on Dauntless Street in
Kenmount Terrace were damaged during a drive-by shooting involving an
assault rifle believed to be an AK-47. The home's occupants are not
involved in the drug trade and the assailants apparently went to the
wrong address in their attempt to retaliate.

RNC Chief Robert Johnston told reporters this week that investigators
have learned the two incidents may be linked to the Hells Angels.
Conohan wasn't involved in those cases. But he said it underscores the
importance of his and other drug-awareness officers' jobs even more.

"Profit drives business and greed. Any time we are undergoing a huge
amount of economic prosperity, organized crime will seek to take their
chunk of the pie," Conohan told The Telegram.

"It lights a little fire under me to say we need to talk about it. We
need to have that open discourse. Any opportunity I get with parents,
I take," said Conohan, who has trained police officers and chemists
internationally about clandestine drug labs.

It's not the drugs of many parents' youth - marijuana and such - but
rather the deadly chemicals and substances that are being added to
drugs that Conohan warns about.

As he talked to The Telegram, he worked his way around a table full of
everything from batteries to camp fuel, antifreeze and drain cleaner
that are used in clandestine labs to make drugs.

The display included a container of one end product - crystal meth -
which looks and feels like rock salt.

One of the chemicals used in meth production is achieved by soaking
such items as road flares, marine flares, matchbook covers and acetone.

Some of the drugs Conohan displayed are technically legal, like the
hallucinogenic salvia, a herbal type of drug from the mint family
which people can order over the Internet, and another ethnobotanical
such as kratom, but Conohan contends they are not safe.

Several plastic containers contain variations of synthetic drugs in
white powder form.

Conohan placed question marks on those containers because customers
don't know they are also getting such potentially dangerous
ingredients as anti-parasitics intended for livestock.

And cocaine, he said, is being cut with a deworming agent intended for
pigs and cows that, if ingested by humans, can attack white blood
cells and possibly compromise the immune system. According to Conohan,
coke is also being cut with the banned carcinogenic analgesic
painkiller Phenacetin, which affects the bladder, kidneys and liver.

"The point I am trying to highlight is you can see plainly all these
drugs in (its) purest form come as white powder. If someone offers you
a hit of something, how is it you know what it is?" he asked.

"There is not enough known about some of them. =C2=85 Some of our typical

medical interventions will not work for people under the influence."

The challenge is keeping up with the methods of illicit drug
manufacturers, who continuously change the molecular structures of
synthetics to try to keep ahead of government agencies' controlled
substances listings.

"It's evolving more quickly than I would like it to," he

Conohan said some drugs, such as ecstasy, are actually being
counterfeited. And that goes for a certain prescription drug, too.

What was being sold as OxyContin turned out to be Fentanyl, an opiate
50-100 times as powerful as morphine. They are faked right down to the
Oxy inscription.

OxyContin was discontinued in favour of a harder-to-crush OxyNeo, but
the generic version of the original drug can be prescribed in Canada.
Conohan hasn't heard any reports of the generic showing up on the streets

Some of the drugs that police have encountered, he said,

Benzylpiperazine (BZP) - street name Euphoria, and
trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine (TFMPP), designed as anti-parasitic
drugs for livestock used primarily to get rid of fleas and ticks in
sheep herds. Now illegal under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act
(CDSA). Both are being sold as ecstasy and the largest seizure in
Atlantic Canada was made in Newfoundland and Labrador, 15,000 tablets.

"As a matter of fact, 84 per cent of pills being sold as ecstasy in
this province have no (methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) in them at
all," Conohan said.

"Approximately three years ago, we started seeing pills that are 100
per cent meth with no ecstasy, and they are being sold as meth pills
on the street for as little as $5-7."

Ketamine - Special K, Vitamin K, Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate or hydroxy
butanoic acid, known as Grievous Bodily Harm, G and Goop, and
otherwise infamously known as the date-rape drug.

The 2C group of synthetic drugs - 2C-B, known on the streets as Nexxus
or Venus. Usually sold in tablet form, they mimic LSD effects. 2C-B
Bromo Dragonfly - known on the streets as Dragonfly or 2C-B Fly, sold
mostly in powder form. 2C-E - being sold as ecstasy, it mimics the
effects of bath salts. 2C-I - 600 hits were recently seized in liquid
form placed on blotter paper and sold as LSD.

Bath salts - mephedrone-methylmethcathinone, known on the streets as
Meph, drone, Mcat or Meow Meow, or methedrone (used as a plant
fertilizer); methylone, which is sometimes referred to as super
ecstasy; methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV).

The largest seizure of bath salts in the Atlantic region was in
Newfoundland and Labrador, until a recent seizure eclipsed it in Nova
Scotia, Conohan said.
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