An eye on the high

‘H’, Snow, Mr. Brownstone

Heroine use is eclipsing the use of coke in Memphis and other parts of the country. Some say it’s due in part to cocaine’s climbing costs. “We’re seeing kilos [of cocaine] going for close to $15k more than they were years ago,” says Sgt. Joe Baker of the West Memphis Police Narcotics Division. “So I think that has a lot to do with it … that’s the main thing we can figure out.”

Fast Facts: Courtesy of National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA)

  • Most street heroin is “cut” with other drugs or substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk or quinine.
  • Heroin craving can persist years after drug cessation, particularly upon exposure to triggers such as stress or people, places and things associated with drug use.
  • According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of current (past-month) heroin users aged 12 or older in the United States increased from 153,000 in 2007 to 213,000 in 2008.

Yucatan Fire, Moon Rocks, Skunk

The synthetic cannabinoids Spice and K2 are among the newest minted narcotics to hit streets. Dried, shredded plant material combined with chemical additives help produce psychoactive effects. Although these products are labeled “not for human consumption,” they stand as the fastest growing narcotics among teens and preteens. Tennessee state legislature recently passed possession laws on K2 in April.

Magic mint’ – Salvia divinorum

Salvia is not currently controlled under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), but its abuse is gaining ground in the U.S. The perennial herb from the mint family is native to the Mazateca region of Oaxaca, Mexico. Its main active ingredient, salvinorin A, is a potent activator of kappa opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors differ from those affected by more common opioids like heroin and morphine. The plant itself can grow more than three feet high, has large green leaves, hollow square stems and white flowers.

Also known as:

  • Maria Pastora
  • Sage of the Seers
  • Diviner’s Sage
  • Salvia
  • Sally-D
  • Magic Mint

Sergeant Joe Baker of the West Memphis Police Narcotics Division has come across Salvia periodically in the last five years, usually at busy truck stops where Interstates 40 and 55 converge. “If we have Central American drivers we do get some salvia in those situations; however, we don’t see a lot of it in town.” Most drivers claim the plant is for personal use, and not for sale.

DEA by the numbers

Budget: The DEA’s annual budget was $2.02 billion for 2011.

Around the World: It currently holds 83 offices in 63 countries. Among government agencies, the DEA has sole responsibility for coordinating and pursuing drug investigations abroad and works in partnership with foreign law enforcement counterparts.

Workforce: Nearly 10,000 men and women, including nearly 5,000 special agents, 500 diversion investigators, 800 intelligence research specialists, and 300 chemists work with the DEA.

Denied: From FY 2005 through March 2011, the DEA stripped approximately $17.7 billion in revenue from drug trafficking organizations.

DEA Drug Seizures in 2010:

  • Cocaine (kgs) 29,179
  • Heroine (kgs) 690
  • Marijuana (kgs) 722,476
  • Meth (kgs) 2067
  • Hallucinogens (dosage units) 2,578,935
– U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

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