LA's battle with synthetic drugs


POSTED: Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 9:30pm

UPDATED: Friday, May 10, 2013 - 5:58pm

Synthetic drugs are such a serious problem in Louisiana officials are scrambling to figure out how to get rid of them.

They're supposed to be illegal but officials say once one drug gets banned, another takes its place.

Agent Scott McIver with Louisiana's Alcohol and Tobacco Control Board says store owners are still finding ways to keep synthetic drugs on store shelves. The ATC even has a new K-9 specially trained to sniff them out. But McIver says the synthetic drugs are being sold on the sly.

"They're getting very crafty,” he said. “They know the tool is here and they try to mask the odor. It [synthetic drugs] eludes us and also the K-9.”

The drugs are often marked “not for human consumption.” When taken illegally the high is mind-altering.

A man in Waco, Texas made headlines after a bad trip on the synthetic drug "Spice." Police say he was so high on the drug, he ate his roommates' dog.

In Walker, Louisiana feticide suspect Jeffrey Reynolds says synthetic drugs also made him go crazy. Walking out of court he told NBC33 cameras, "I hope the state will make new laws and enforce laws against synthetic drugs. That has ruined my family."

Livingston Parish deputies say Reynolds cut his unborn child out of his pregnant wife's belly.

In July 2012 the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act singled out 26 chemicals in synthetic drugs and made all of them illegal. But ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert says people are still making a fortune on them by tweaking the formulas of the drugs.

"As we outlaw compounds, they change the compounds and were keeping up. As they change we change," Hebert said.

Here in Louisiana, it's a crackdown to keep synthetic drugs from spiraling out of control. But local law enforcement admits sometimes their hands are tied.
"There's not much that we can do if it’s not illegal and that's the frustrating part," East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said.

All suspected synthetic drugs are taken to the State Police Crime Lab for testing. Right now Louisiana lawmakers have identified new chemical compounds and are trying to make that batch illegal, too.

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