Friday, March 20, 2009

Colorful ecstasy mimic tablets and cocaine in a "ukelele"


The DEA's Office of Forensic Sciences publishes a monthly newsletter called the Microgram Bulletin, which features news and photos about unusual drugs and drug smuggling techniques.

I like reading the newsletter for two reasons: first, it's filled with examples of human ingenuity (the August, 2008 issue has photos of fake kidney bean made to smuggle heroin). Second, it's mind-boggling to see the weird drugs that people like to take: Butanediol? Nandralone? Boldenone? Trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine? Sceletium tortuosum? N,N-dimethylamphetamine? Testosterone cypionate? Bromo-Benzodifuranyl-Isopropylamine Hydrochloride? I've never heard of thse. Apparently, the world is filled with connoisseurs of esoteric inebrients!

The December 2008 edition of the newsletter has photos of colorful ecstasy mimic tablets (above) along with photos of cocaine being smuggled in an "ukelele" (sic), which doesn't seem to be a ukulele.

The Portland Metro Forensic Laboratory of the Oregon State Police recently received 18 vibrantly colored tablets of five different types, all suspected Ecstasy. The exhibits were seized in Portland by the Portland Police Department, incidental to a stop for a traffic violation and subsequent consent search. The tablets were mixed together; there were six round orange tablets imprinted with an Interstate 5 shield logo (total net mass 1.7 grams), four green tablets, shaped and imprinted to resemble a “Transformer” (total net mass 1.1 grams), four round purple tablets imprinted with an JL Audio logo (total net mass 1.2 grams), three pink tablets, shaped and imprinted to resemble the head of Bart Simpson (total net mass 0.8 grams), and one round blue tablet imprinted with the Superman logo (total net mass 0.2 grams). The Transformer and Bart Simpson tablets were very detailed and well-pressed, and more resembled candies or children’s chewable vitamins as opposed to typical Ecstasy tablets. Analysis by color tests (Marquis and nitroprusside), GC/MS, and UV, however, indicated not MDMA but rather a 1 :1 mixture of benzylpiperazine (BZP) and trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine (TFMPP) for the orange, green, purple and blue tablets, and a 1 : 2 mixture of BZP and TFMPP for the pink tablets. The piperazines were not formally quantitated, but were present in a moderate to high loading based on the TIC and UV. The laboratory has received numerous Ecstasy mimic tablets containing this piperazine mixture over the past year, but never before in these unusual tablet shapes. Since this initial submission, the laboratory received an exhibit containing another 30 of the green Transformer-shaped and imprinted tablets, also containing the 1 : 1 mixture of BZP and TFMPP.
Microgram Bulletin, Dec 2008

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