DARLINGTON- Law enforcement officers across South Carolina say they're seeing a resurgence in synthetic drugs once known as "bath salts," now appearing in stores under new names and with slightly different ingredients.
View attachment 24406 Officers in the Upstate recently became aware of products being labeled as "glass cleaner" and sold in convenience stores and other locations in portions of Spartanburg County.
Law enforcement agencies said the substances are actually slight variations of the chemical ingredients found in "bath salts" and said they pose the same serious dangers to potential users.
In the fall, the DEA placed an emergency ban on the products, which have nothing in common with products long-used in bathing, as a sort of imitation cocaine or LSD.
At about the same time, SC DHEC officials also made "bath salts" and "K2", or synthetic marijuana, illegal.
The chemicals in "bath salts" were not been approved by the FDA for human consumption and have been linked to violent, sometimes deadly outbursts by users.
In the Pee Dee, law enforcement officers and first and emergency responders struggled to respond to the problems created by usage of "bath salts," and many cities and counties adopted emergency ordinances to try to ban the substances before federal and state authorities eventually intervened.
Now officers say the resurgence of a slightly altered product has them extremely concerned about another potential wave of users and overdoses.
"There have been, especially in the Upstate, some new influxes of materials that they're calling other things, window cleaner, cat litter and plant food," said Cheraw Police Chief Jay Brooks, who became a self-taught expert on synthetic stimulants after seeing firsthand the impacts on one user in Chesterfield County.
"It's a continuous process to try to eliminate it and control it," he said.
Though Brooks said he has not yet seen the products labeled as "glass cleaner" in Chesterfield County stores, that does not mean that they are not on their way.
He says that he, and other law enforcement officers who have taken a special interest in combatting the problem, keep in constant contact and alert officers in various parts of the state when new synthetic materials show up on the market.
"There have been several arrests in the Upstate of both wholesalers and retailers and we're working with local law enforcement up there to get pictures of the containers and of who is bringing it in," Brooks said.
"We have a pretty good network of investigators who are keeping us abreast of what's happening so that we can look out for those people and those retailers and wholesalers in this area," he said.
Other law enforcement agencies in the Pee Dee say that while they have not yet seen the "glass cleaner" product on store shelves, they have seen various other incarnations of the synthetic stimulants and said regardless of the name, they contain many, if not all of the same ingredients as the banned "bath salts" product.
Darlington County Sheriff Wayne Byrd said his officers continually look for banned synthetic stimulants and said it's pretty easy for the average person to understand that the products' names do not reflect what would commonly be associated with them.
"The biggest thing to look at is the way it's being packaged and the way it's being sold," Byrd said.
"You don't buy air freshener or window cleaner by the ounce or by the gram, you know, when you buy Windex, you buy a big bottle of Windex...and it doesn't cost $40 or $50," he said.
Byrd said that his officers began seeing the product labeled with various names as early as before the DEA's ban even went into place, and said that the manufacturers are simply trying to skirt the law.
He said that he has also seen the impacts of a bath salts overdose and said that any store that sells the products, under any name, may be contributing to a potentially deadly chain of events.
"You don't know what type of reaction you're going to have to it (the synthetic drug,) we know that we have had a death here in our county that was directly related to bath salts...so, it's a serious problem." Byrd said.
Brooks said that he also continues to monitor the sale of synthetic substances in and around his community and said he even sends undercover officers into stores, looking to purchase illegal substances on many occassions.
He said that while law enforcement agencies are working together with lawmakers to try to find a permanent solution rather than an emergency ban, he believes those wanting to manufacture or purchase the drugs will continue to try to find ways to break the law.
"We do everything possible, again though, when there's a will there's a way and it's just going to be a constant battle, just like most other drugs have been," Brooks said.
"We'll do the best that we can to work with the legislature to make sure that we stay ahead of the curve and do everything we can to keep the streets safe," he said.
State Representative Anne Thayer (R- Anderson County) drafted a bill that would make it very difficult for manufacturers to continue to supply the ingredients found in bath salts under different names.
The measure would ban 110 drugs, all of which have been tested to verify that they had no medicinal purposes.
House Bill 3793 was introduced by Thayer in March, has already been referred to a Judiciary Committee and is expected to go before the full House in the coming weeks.
Video, DF entry:
Pee Dee authorities prepping to combat synthetic drug "glass cleaner"
Obs.: Video embebbed in source article
Published: January 23, 2012
By: PATRICIA BURKETT | SCNow
Law enforcement says glass cleaner product is new bath salts