HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Rumors Spur National Alert
Pubdate: Fri, 18 May 2007
Source: Emporia Gazette, The (KS)
Copyright: 2007 The Emporia Gazette
Author: Bobbi Mlynar
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Rumors circulating nationwide about flavored methamphetamines have 
not yet been confirmed by lab tests. Until they know with certainty, 
however, law enforcement, school officials and anti-drug groups 
across the country are taking it seriously.

The Carson City, Nev., Sheriff's Office is credited with the initial 
seizure of flavored meth known as "strawberry quick."

Sgt. Darrin Sloan, who leads the Special Enforcement Team in Carson 
City, said that the new meth came to light during a buy set up with 
an informant who had worked with sheriff's officers on about 10 
cases. The informant said that he could buy what he called "pink 
meth" from one of the suspects the SET was investigating.

"He purchased it. He brought it back to us and said the guy called it 
'strawberry meth,'" Sloan said in an interview Wednesday night. "When 
I looked at it, I'd never seen anything like it. I don't know how they did it."

Sloan said the pink-colored meth was alleged to have come from Sacramento.

"It's actually been the only case here," he said.

The crime laboratory has not yet confirmed the presence of flavoring 
in the seized meth. The lab will have the report ready when the case 
goes to trial.

"They have a machine they can put it in and they can break it all 
down," he said.

Sloan said the "strawberry quick" did not have the scent of strawberry.

"To me, it just smelled like meth. ... It's got to be bad, no matter 
what they put in it," he said.

Ephedrine, anhydrous ammonia and battery acid are among the 
ingredients used to manufacture methamphetamines.

Sloan said he was concerned that young people would be attracted to 
flavored meth.

"My own thoughts were, once this hits the streets, it's just more 
attractive to the kids," he said.

The Carson City arrest, followed up by a warning from the Nevada 
Department of Public Safety, prompted some school officials in Nevada 
to alert parents to flavored meth. That warning eventually manifested 
into an e-mail alert that has been circulating across the country. 
The e-mail shows a flyer used by the Lander County School District in 
Battle Mountain, Nev.

Lander County Superintendent Curtis Jordan said that state law 
enforcement officials had sent out a warning about the new twist on 
an old drug. The district sent flyers home with children to alert 
their parents; teachers also talked with students about the new form 
of an old drug.

"Basically, as I understand it, what they're doing is mixing 
(flavored drink powder) with the meth and giving it to kids," Jordan 
said. "We have not had anybody actually taking it. I've heard a rumor 
there was somebody offered it in the district, but it was just a 
rumor, no substantiation on that."

Jordan said that receiving a warning from law enforcement compelled 
the district to disseminate the information.

"We take anything like that very seriously," Jordan said. "It's 
better to be warned against something that might not be a problem ... 
than to get a problem and explain why we didn't warn about it. It's 
something I think people need to be aware of and watch out for."

National news reports also have alleged an incident involving 
flavored meth in Arkansas. An official with the Arkansas Crime 
Laboratory clarified the information in a telephone interview this week.

Chris Harrison, chief illicit laboratory chemist, said that law 
enforcement had raided a meth lab and found packages of 
strawberry-flavored drink powder in the trash, along with remnants of 
meth ingredients. Meth from the raid has not yet come through his 
laboratory, so there is no tangible evidence to support the claim.

"What we're telling everybody is that this is not a problem in our 
area yet," Harrison said. "It has not been seen enough to really be 
considered any kind of trend. We just have some anecdotal evidence 
that it might be coming into Arkansas."

He said that it is possible that a lab might not detect flavoring 
because labs usually conduct basic extractions. Technicians may 
notice different colors, and would be able to detect sugar as they 
look for controlled substances or cutting agents.

"We're not looking for flavors," he said.

Harrison said that rocks of colored methamphetamine hydrochloride -- 
meth's full name -- are not unusual. Coloring meth is one way to try 
to disguise it, especially when attempts are being made to slip it 
into a prison setting. Additionally, coloration is a bit of a 
marketing tool. Whether a product is legal or illegal, he said, 
sellers want to find a way to make their products stand out from the 
others and thereby increase sales.

"Drug dealers have consistently marketed their drugs any way they 
can, using flavorings and colors, different kinds of candies, ever 
since they've been selling drugs," Harrison said. "People think 
they're getting something new and they'll maybe be more likely to buy 
it from you rather than someone else."

Harrison said the lab has been doing surveys regularly to check for 
the presence of flavored meth.

"Nobody's seeing it," he said. "We've had a couple of colored drugs 
but nothing that really seems to be flavored."

Meth may be colored with food coloring and if it's purple, he said, 
it may have been colored by a pH imbalance from improper "cooking."

The key fact about meth is that it is dangerous and addictive, 
whether it is a natural color or enhanced with coloring and flavors, he said.

"You should always be concerned about your children's exposure to 
drugs," Harrison said.

Flavored meth apparently has not yet come to Kansas, though sessions 
on the topic have been conducted at law enforcement seminars in the state.

"No, we haven't seen anything in Kansas," said Kyle Smith, deputy 
director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. "It's addictive 
enough and I don't know that they need to sugar coat it, pardon the 
expression, to get customers once people try it."

Loretta Wyrick, assistant coordinator for the state's Methamphetamine 
Prevention Project, concurred.

"There are no verified reports from law enforcement labs," Wyrick said.

The MPP is taking the matter seriously, though, and is gathering 
information to use in its next newsletter.

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