BLOOMINGTON, Ind. —Police say the synthetic drug, spice, may be responsible for at least 25 overdoses over the past two weeks in Bloomington.
While police there work to find the source, the DEA calls the number of overdoses concerning.
“I tell you what, what it does is it motivates me and it motivates my people in law enforcement, the people I deal with every day to go out and find these individuals and bring them to justice,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Greg Westfall said.
Investigators say there are difficulties combating the drug.
“We constantly have to change our techniques and the way we investigate them so we can find so we can prove the elements of the crime,” Westfall said.
Investigators say the chemicals are often shipped in from Asia. They’re ordered over the dark web and are sometimes anonymous. Then they’re transported to the U.S. using parcel services. Westfall says sometimes the parcels are disguised or the shipping labels will be fictitious to elude law enforcement.
Investigators say the drug can be sold as an incense or potpourri, and manufacturers try to find new substances to skirt the law.
“As I stated over the last two years now, IMPD has reported that you know they’re seeing spice exhibits so now in Bloomington we have a rash of overdoses, a cluster of overdoses. So what is a concern to me is what is that chemical, is that chemical something that we’ve already emergency scheduled? Is that something we need to look at,” Westfall said.
Westfall said in the DEA’s first 25 years, it used its power to emergency schedule 25 substances. Since 2011, it’s emergency scheduled 37 synthetic substances.
Behind the shiny packaging of spice, though, users don’t know what chemical or what dosage they’re actually putting into their bodies.
“Just say no,” Westfall said.
The DEA said it’s seen some success prosecuting cases involving spice on the federal level, and recently, China changed its law to help in cracking down on clandestine manufacturers.