The proliferation of synthetic drugs across the country has led to several drug-busts, including a massive nationwide sting operation last Tuesday in Houston, Texas.
The drug bust was a joint effort among the DEA and other law enforcement agencies. More than ten people suspected of trafficking synthetic drugs were arrested, including Omar Al Nasser, an assistant professor of finance with the University of Houston in Victoria, who also taught classes in Sugar Land. Over 9.5 tons of synthetic drugs were seized in the sting, which had been going on for years across different agencies.
Suspects who were arrested included a professor at the University of Houston-Victoria. As the traffickers appeared in court, their testimonies began painting a clearer picture of just how widespread and dangerous artificial drugs can be, and how large of a threat they are.
Synthetic drugs are cheap to produce, not only making them easy to make and sell, but also spawning a wide market for those in need of an inexpensive, quick fix.
A pair of recovering addicts currently at The Open Door Mission, a non-profit rehabilitation enter in Houston, was interviewed by ABC 13 News on the problem with synthetic drugs, particularly marijuana. David, who has only been in the center for a few days, put it bluntly:
Synthetic marijuana is basically marijuana times ten. If you’re not used to smoking it, you get paranoid. You might even hear stuff or see stuff.
David says that a joint of synthetic marijuana, commonly called “kush,” costs only a dollar and a bag as little as five dollars. It’s basically the easiest kind of drug to score. “Downtown,” he said. “It’s that simple. Just walk downtown and if you look like the kind of person that might use, you’ll be approached.”
Doug, another recovering addict, adds that the experience is quite intense. In an interview with Eyewitness News, he says, “It’s ten times worse than regular marijuana. As far as the getting high part of it, it’s gonna hit you. You take one or two hits and you’re just laid down.”
The DEA has warned that synthetic marijuana, which is a composite of different chemicals, is emerging to be a serious public health threat. The suspects in court were charged with mislabeling the drugs as incense or potpourri, even certifying it as 100% legal and lab-certified. None of the men entered pleas or had bond hearings. The government is set to seize businesses, homes and cars, and anything else owned by the suspects that might be linked to drug trafficking.