Dangerous drug cocktails prompt police warnings

Police in Newfoundland and Labrador are finding strange synthetic drugs that contain an array of chemicals but are being packaged as familiar street drugs.

Sgt. Steve Conohan, the RCMP's co-ordinator of drugs and organized crime awareness in the province, said some of the drugs police have seized recently are far more dangerous that the cocaine or ecstasy that users think they're buying.

He said chemicals with names like 2CE and 2CB are showing up in communities all over the province.

"We're finding some of the chemicals in some of the smallest communities," said Conohan. "On the Northern Peninsula we seized thousands of pills being sold as ecstasy that were actually these two chemicals."

In June, Conohan said a woman from Happy Valley-Goose Bay was caught with about a thousand fake OxyContin pills that turned out to be a drug called fentanyl, which is a similar but more powerful opioid than OxyContin.

Conohan also cited a routine seizure of a kilogram of cocaine on Newfoundland's west coast.

"Initially when it was seized it was white in colour. We took some samples to send off to the Health and Welfare Canada laboratory. When they checked on it several days later, the entire kilo was green."

Conohan said he's been seeing cocaine that has been cut with increasingly unusual products.

Levamisole, for example, is a de-wormer used mostly by veterinarians in pigs and cows.

"But we're finding it as a cutting agent in cocaine more and more often."

Conohan said Levamisole lowers white blood cell counts and discolours the skin.

He said police are also finding synthetic drugs like methamphetamine buried in shipments of contraband cigarettes.

"You know, some of the stuff that's out there ... it's buyer beware for sure," Conohan said.

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