Synthetic drugs more dangerous, kids can get them online

Local 4 Defenders spoke to Matthew Stentz, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations about the dangers of synthetic drugs and how easily obtainable they have become.

Stentz said people are finding them online and in stores.

"It's readily available via the Internet, it's sold at convenient stores, It's sold at head shops," Stentz said.  "It's actually being marketed to children.  When you look at the names of these narcotics, it's the bright wrapping, it's the names like Cloud 9, Black Mamba."

There are synthetic stimulants and synthetic marijuana.  Local 4 medical expert Dr. Frank McGeorge works at the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital and knows first hand what can happen when someone experiments with synthetic drugs.  

In many ways synthetic drugs are more dangerous because their effects are more unpredictable," McGeorge said. "I regularly see kids in the ER that are just whacked out on synthetic drugs and they end up on life support because there is just no antidote or treatment."

Stentz said everyone from law enforcement to parents to children needs to be worried about synthetic drugs.

"Whether it's grade school, middle school, high school, college, university, you know, there is a lot of accessibility there, there is a lot of time.  It's a concern for law enforcement and, you know, the community at large when these kids have time on their hands and want to experiment with these things," Stentz said.

There are often big events in the summer that bring groups of people together which can give others a drug trafficking opportunity. 

"When you do have large events like this there is a heightened awareness and heightened interest on the part of law enforcement to identify individuals that might use these venues in order to traffic in these items," Stentz said.

Stentz said synthetic drugs are a global problem, and Homeland Security Investigations partners with local and state police to stop bigger organizations behind the drugs.

"A lot of times this information will be developed as a result of a seizure or an arrest that happens at these events and we can work that information and investigate that larger network," Stentz said.

Stentz said parents are the front lines and asks that they talk to their kids about these drugs, look for changes in behavior and pay attention to any mysterious packages that show up at home because these drugs can be bought online.

If that happens or you suspect any sort of drug activity call your local police department or call the Homeland Security Investigations tip line: 866-DHS-2-ICE or click here

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