Synthetic drug manufacturers target teens with packaging


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist JP HARRINGTON

Bio | Email | Follow: @KrisB_KVUE

Posted on June 26, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 26 at 10:23 PM

AUSTIN -- They are dangerous synthetic drugs marketed with cartoons.


"These packages are shiny, they look good. They're marketed towards young people," said DEA agent Greg Thrash.

"It makes it seem like it's something that's harmless, something that's not going to be dangerous like its chewing gum or candy or something like that,” said Angela Vickrey with Recovery Austin.

Vickrey says so far, drug manufacturers have been one step ahead of the law because these synthetic drugs are “difficult to regulate."

But on Wednesday, the law fought back in what the DEA is calling the “biggest ever bust of a synthetic drug ring.”

In Austin, six people have been indicted on federal charges.

“This is the beginning. It's not an end, it's a beginning, and we will not rest until people stop poisoning our kids,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo.

The psychoactive drugs are manufactured in Asia, packaged in Texas and then sold in local smoke shops.

"Not only are these substances illegal, but you're playing a game of Russian roulette when you put these unregulated and unknown chemicals into your body,” said United States Attorney Robert Pitman.

In April, a 16-year old died in Fredericksburg after taking a synthetic drug, and Ruth Rivas from El Paso says she lost her son Adam a year ago.

“After everything that happened and the coroner telling me that Adam had been smoking Spice, and then I understood I should have been asking what was changing my son, because it's Spice."

She says the packaging on synthetic drugs like Spice is deceiving.

“There's one in particular one that shows Sponge Bob, and on the package it says potpourri."

After the death of her son, Rivas said it became her goal to warn other parents about the dangers of synthetic drugs.

She has a website here with warnings about the potentially deadly side-effects of synthetic drugs.



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