AUSTIN (KXAN) - Authorities have started a nationwide operation cracking down on the designer drug, bath salts.
In all, $36 millions was confiscated around the country in the past week.
One of those busts happened in Austin, where Jessie Olivieri was arrested and charged with possession of three kilograms of Methylone, the key ingredient used to make the drug.
Austin's Drug Enforcement Administration officials said Olivieri had ordered 10 kilograms from China prior to this arrest. The cost for one kilogram of Methylone from China cost $2,000; the street value is $120,000.
The only consistent thing that law enforcement officers can count on when it comes to the designed drug known as "bath salts" is the main ingredient, Methylone.
Everything else, they say, is a mystery and unlike any other drug.
"We know about cocaine, we know about heroin, we know about methamphetamine," said Greg Thrash of Austin's office of the DEA. "We know the danger's there. The problem with this stuff is it's relatively new and they can change the molecular structure where tomorrow. It's a little different than it is today and these people just don't know what they're putting in their bodies."
Dealers try to beat the system by changing the makeup of the drug to make it legal to sell.
"The problem we have in law enforcement is they're always trying to stay one step ahead of the Legislature in putting these compounds, identifying what these compounds are," said Donald Baker of the Austin Police Department's Organized Crime Unit. "So, as soon as we say, 'OK, it's now illegal,' they'll change the chemical composition to where it no longer fits."
But even though it's legal it still can be lethal.
Hospitals in Austin have seen an increase of people who have taken the designer drug coming in to the emergency room.
Emergency room Dr. Eric Higginbothan said most of the time bath salts contains euphoria, a chemical that causes a person to take more and more, and that's when it can really turn bad.
"That's when these people begin to act paranoid and believe someone is out to get them," Higginbothan said.
The more a person takes of the synthetic drug, obviously the more dangerous, but it can also just take one time for serious effects.
"I've seen people after taking a single dose end up in the emergency room because of this feeling they're going to die," Higginbothan said.
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