April 21, 2008. (AP) New forms of synthetically sweetened cocaine has been discovered in California by federal drug agents who hope to stop its development before it becomes available to other parts of the nation.
Drug agents said the new product was more sophisticated than previous forms that attempted to mix cocaine with powdered candy.
The previous form was cut with extra flavoring, thus making it less potent, but the amount seized last week was full-strength, investigators say. Flavors included strawberry, coconut, lemon and cinnamon.
Drug Enforcement Agents discovered the 1.5 pounds of synthetically sweetened cocaine in two homes in Modesto, Calif. The drugs would earn $1,100 to $1,400 an ounce on the street, compared to regular cocaine, which sells for $600 to $700 an ounce, they said.
Gordon Taylor, the DEA’s assistant special agent in charge of the investigation, said the possibility of a candy-flavored cocaine epidemic would be extremely dangerous to children and teenagers. He said that law enforcement agencies must work with each other to end any attempt to expand the drug in other markets.
“Attempting to lure new, younger customers to a dangerous drug by adding candy flavors is an unconscionable marketing technique,” Taylor said.
Dealers of powder and rock cocaine have used other methods such as dying the drug in order to conceal it for transport. In February, Police in Virginia arrested a New Jersey man who possessed 4.5 pounds of cocaine concealed in lollipop, chocolate and toffee wrappers.
However, last month’s discovery of a new strain of flavored cocaine is reportedly the first in the nation.
Last year, strawberry-flavored methamphetamines were discovered reaching from California to as far as Virginia.
“Meth has sort of a bitter, nasty taste, so it’s kind of easy for the young kids to get into this,” said Henry Spiller, director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Center in Louisville. “It’s an effort to make meth more appealing.”
An undercover narcotics officer in Benton County, Ark. Said that flavored meth seemed to move quickly across the US.
“It seems like everyone we run into knows someone that has at least been affected by it,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of young people, from teenagers to 20-somethings, doing the drug. It's definitely something that’s real dangerous.”
Psychologist Sean O’Hara is an addictive-diseases specialist in San Diego. He said that not only do the drugs attract children, they also tend to make them believe they are less dangerous.
“They think if they’re getting something that has color in it or is sweet to the taste because it’s been cut with sugar or Jell-O and had other chemicals added to it ... it seems like it’s a less-threatening drug,” O’Hara said.
Authorities are urging parents to watch closely for any sign of the new drugs.
“If parents see a colored powder or sweet-smelling powder not in a factory package, I would pay real close attention to it,” said Hatfield of the Cathedral City police.