Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

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Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

Soliado
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/11/synthetic-opiates-drug-laws-w-18-fentanyl

Susan Zalkind in Boston/The Guardian

W-18 and U-47700 are the latest designer drugs among thousands created and smuggled into the US that have yet to be outlawed as controlled substances

Fentanyl, an opioid 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, was classified as a schedule I controlled substance in May 2015. Photograph: Joe Amon/Denver Post via Getty Images

Adolphe Joseph, 34, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for smuggling fentanyl – an opiate 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

But he has not been charged for the nearly three pounds of a synthetic opiate more than 10,000 times as powerful as morphine investigators found in his South Florida home last Fall. Nor will he be, say prosecutors.

W-18 is one of thousands of synthetic opiates that is not scheduled as a controlled substance and thus not subject to criminal drug penalties, and one of a handful of drugs that law enforcement officials and scientists say they have seen in increasing numbers in the last six months, as use, abuse and overdose deaths continues to rise.

Another, U-47700, which is seven to eight times stronger than morphine, has been the source of overdoses over the past year in at least 10 states since the first US incident was discovered in Knoxville, Tennessee, in June 2015.

Barry Logan, the executive director for the Center of Forensic Science and Education, said his lab has been able to track down 17 overdose cases of U-47700. And several other overdose deaths and hospitalizations have been identified by local law enforcement in Florida and northern Texas.

Even self-described drug connoisseurs are airing their concerns about W-18 on online forums.
“I don’t think any sane drug user would ever consider playing with this substance,” said a man identified as Trippman on Bluelight.org. “Sounds incredibly dangerous, even for those with opioid tolerances.”

But it’s unclear exactly how pervasive these drugs are. Overdoses on synthetic opioids “may be reported as a heroin overdose death unless the medical examiners dig down deep”, said Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Russ Bare. He said forensics scientists often will not take steps to search for existence of a specific compound unless an individual overdoses near drug paraphernalia, or there is other environmental evidence.

The prevalence of these drugs is “substantially under-reported”, he said.

The uptick in overdoses and drug seizures involving opiates like W-18 and U-47700 follows actions taken by the Chinese government to criminalize more than 100 chemicals on 1 October 2015, according to Bare.
Once more traditional synthetic drugs were outlawed, chemists looked to more novel substances instead.
“There was a little bit of a shift at that point,” said Bare, of the kinds of drugs coming into America.

The banned chemicals included the makings of acetyl fentanyl, an illicit version or analogue of the powerful prescription painkiller fentanyl that is drastically exacerbating the opioid epidemic in the US. Flakka, a cathinone similar to bath salts, was also banned.

Jim Hall, a prominent South Florida epidemiologist, said the chatter he’s been hearing from experts and law enforcement about U-47700 in the last few weeks reminds him of the beginning of the Flakka epidemic. Flakka caused panic in the Broward County area over the last few years due to high fatal overdose rates and its affects of causing violent hallucinations paired with superhuman strength.

The Chinese government outlawed the chemicals after Florida DEA agents visited with officials in China. Since the ban, Flakka has all but disappeared according to law enforcement.

New synthetic opiates have proven more difficult to keep out of the country, said Bare. In May 2015, when the Department of Justice bumped acetyl fentanyl up to a schedule I controlled substance, chemists made slight alterations to produce new, but functionally similar analogues.

“They tweak a chemical here, add a molecule there,” said Bare, of chemists staying one step ahead of the law.

After the ban in China, chemists began to produce drugs that weren’t fentanyl, but claimed to have similar effects, at an increased rate, said Bare. Because there are so many different kinds of synthetic opiates and variations, the DEA is constantly “trying to play catch up” to track them down, said Bare.

Most of the time buyers in the US don’t know what they’re purchasing, “All they know is they are getting a chemical somehow connected to fentanyl.” He added that unlike with fentanyl, popular overdose remedies like naloxone have not been proven to work with these substances.

Logan said chemists are finding the recipes for these drugs from research books from the 1970s, when scientists were trying to invent alternatives to morphine.

“In order to find one drug like that you have to test hundreds of them,” said Logan. The result is that there are thousands of variations of research opiates, most of which were never meant to be tried on humans.

U-47700 was declared a controlled substance in Finland in September 2015, in Sweden it was declared a narcotic in January of this year.

Though U-47700 has not been specifically criminalized in the US, prosecutors can still file charges under the Controlled Substance Analogue Act if the compound is “substantially similar” to a controlled substance. Still, even if the prosecutor has a strong case, these arguments can be difficult to make to a jury. “It’s very difficult to get jurors to understand the complex science behind that,” said Hall.

When Broward prosecutor Anita White was charging Joseph, she found that W-18 was too chemically different from any other controlled substance to make a case at all.

Joseph had been purchasing fentanyl from China by way of an associate in a Canadian prison who arranged the bitcoin transactions with a smuggled cellphone. White believed she had a strong enough case without charging him for the W-18. She addressed W-18 in sentencing instead.

“The W-18 was kind of out of the blue,” said White, who was surprised to find after his arrest, that the majority of the white powder in Joseph’s home was not fentanyl. “I had never heard of W-18 before it.”
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

dcm90
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

canadiana
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Is that because it's so strong that you fiend it?
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

dcm90
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

Slappy
That sounds like no fun.  Im hearing they are mixing fentanyl with shitty Heroin and selling it as super pure heroin because the combo is so strong.
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

canadiana
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My son says you can't even trust your pot.It could be sprinkled with fentynal.Can you imagine?
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

durrr
Banned User
well your sons an idiot
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

el Jesse James
In reply to this post by canadiana
No ma'am I wouldnt say you'd have to worry about bud being laced with fent. If hes into this scene though, tell him to watch out for norcos(hydrocodone tablets). Theres been some "homemade" fentanyl pressed norcos going around lately, along with fent pressed xanax bars. Unless the people are extremely experienced and know what theyre doing, you can usually spot a press vs a real deal pharmaceutical. Xanax for one has a unique bitter taste. And many/most times presses will be crumbly, nowhere near as hard as a pharm-made tablet. There are some very high quality presses out there though, eg the Quantik bars off the dark net are quite good. From what I hear any way. All the fent analogues and U-4 are bad news like dcm said though. Stay away at all costs. I already know what youre in for so I havent touched any of em, I had my fill when a close friend of mine ~6 or 7 years ago "came into possession of" about 5000 of the gel patches, back when they still made them. Man, our little circle of friends lived like small town rocks stars for a good 8 months or so(atleast from our high schooler point of view lol). He hit a lick one state over and then high tailed it over here to live with his mama, loot in hand. We were moving the 100mcg patches at 50 a pop or less depending how many you got at once, and then it would go down the line from there... most of our customers were letting them go for 75+ a piece. It was nuts considering we were 16 and 17 years old. By the end of our run we were wearing 3 100's at a time... I gotta head into work now tho yall, be safe out there!
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

Bajadrone-2
In reply to this post by canadiana
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

Siskiyou_Kid
In reply to this post by el Jesse James
There was a public health alert in Santa Cruz, California last November after two people OD'd and died after ingesting counterfeit Xanibars which were laced with fentanyl, while there have been a slew of deaths in Sacramento linked to counterfeit Norco [vicodin] pills laced with fentanyl.

http://www.ksbw.com/news/santa-cruz-police-arrest-man-involved-in-deadly-counterfeit-xanax-case/36372774

http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/health-and-medicine/article71592282.html
Those that say, don't know. Those that know, don't say.
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

el Jesse James
Exactly right sir, thats precisely what I was talking about! Thanks for actually sourcing the links. Its quite retarded IMO. I mean come on, xanax presses with fent??!!!! How fckng retarded!! Fentanyls an opioid, alprazolam is a benzo... 2 totally different classes of CNS depressants! Any bartard with a decent benzo tolerance but minimal opioid tolerance thinking theyre getting regular bars, popping their regular dose of bars is in for a huge rude awakening(that is to say, rude passout/knockout promptly leading into a fatal overdose...)!!!!!! Whoever thought it a good idea to press bars with fent should be executed burned alive. Same with the norco presses, at best they would be pressed to resemble 10mg hydrocodone, and in actuality  have most likely somewhere around 500mcg - 1500mcg  fentanyl in them. Atleast hydrocodone is an opioid so that the customer knows theyre getting a opioid, albeit an opioid that is like ~70x the potency of hydrocone. So pretty much same thing, someone with a decent tolerance to norcos/lortabs pops their usual amount of these norco presses, and end up getting a dose of fentanyl that would kill them several times over! Simply ridiculous!!  FU(K these mothrf(krs!!!! The idiocy of pressing norco tabs and xanax bars with fentanyl almost makes me think some sociopath is purposefully trying to draw heat onto this scene and sabotage the entire scene(this scene being, for example, the high quality pressed alprazolam bars from the dark net). Damn sure is an effective way to do so... drawing all this heat on pressed xanax bars by causing fatal overdoses left and right(not to mention the non fatal OD's...)! UGH! It needs to be said once more: FU(K THESE MOTH3R FV(KR3$!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

303 Kush
In reply to this post by canadiana
Why would a drug dealer secretly sprinkle a drug that he could make him money and essentially give it away for free?  Regardless, this is why we need to legalize, cut out the dealer.  
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

303 Kush
In reply to this post by dcm90
It is not more destructive than heroin
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

Soliado
In reply to this post by dcm90
DCM90, please don't take this as a sarcastic question or as me trying to put one over you. I just don't have any experience with this stuff and would like to know out of curiosity. Knowing all of the harmful effects that this drug causes on one's body, combined with the cost of it and the way it seems to take over one's life, why use this drug? Why experiment with it? What is it about the drug that drives people to want to use it in the first place?
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

el Jesse James
Maybe some people are different, and get different effects. But there's not much that feels better than a solid opioid dose. We all tell ourselves we can do it responsibly in the beginning, while knowing full well we want to feel like that everyday if possible. It gets out of control pretty quick. As a whole, I'd say opiate users are generally less dangerous people than some of the coke up or tweaked out folks I've come across. It's still a cold world no doubt, but slightly less cold than the coke/crack/meth scene IMO..
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

dcm90
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Re: Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

Soliado
DCM90, I don't know your history that causes you to have such an opinion but I do know that I look forward to reading your postings. It's obvious that you are intelligent and are very capable at backing up your opinions versus others who voice an opinion but cannot back up what they state.

As a person that grew up in an abusive home as a child, I know what it feels like to constantly be put down and made to feel worthless every day. No matter how many successes I achieved, it was never good enough and there was always something to be criticized. I grew up with a tremendous amount of anger and self doubt that for years kept me from achieving the success that I was mine to have. However, I first had to learn how to take back control of my own life and stop allowing myself to continue being the victim of emotional, and psychological abuse by the one person who was supposed to be a role model. As long as I kept giving that person control, I would continue repeating the self destructive behavior that I so despised and that was preventing me from going forward.

Brother, take a long look at yourself and where you are at. Is this really what you imagined for yourself or is this what type of life you want for yourself? What can you do to change things for the positive? It won't be easy, I know that from experience, but it is so worth it. You sir are very much worth the effort.