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Wyoming Drug Threat Assessment
December 2001

Other Dangerous Drugs

The other dangerous drugs (ODDs) category includes club drugs (stimulants, sedatives, and hallucinogens), psilocybin, inhalants, and diverted pharmaceuticals. Currently, the ODD threat in Wyoming is minimal. Club drugs seized or purchased by law enforcement personnel in Wyoming include LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Increases in the availability and use of club drugs such as GHB and MDMA have been noted by the Wyoming DCI; however, the user population remains very limited. Typically, club drugs are used by teens and young adults at all-night dance parties called raves. Nearly 150 tablets of MDMA were seized in 2000, primarily in Albany and Laramie Counties in southeastern Wyoming. The use of psilocybin, inhalants, and some diverted pharmaceuticals is also of concern to law enforcement authorities. Inhalant abuse by Wyoming youth is higher than the national average.


Throughout the 1990s, high energy, all-night dances known as raves, which feature hard-pounding techno-music and flashing laser lights, increased in popularity among teens and young adults. Raves occur in most metropolitan areas of the country. They can be either permanent dance clubs or temporary "weekend event" sites set up in abandoned warehouses, open fields, empty buildings, or civic centers. Club drugs are a group of synthetic drugs often sold at raves and dance clubs. MDMA is one of the most popular club drugs. Rave managers often sell water, pacifiers, and glow sticks at rave parties. "Ravers" require water to offset dehydration caused by MDMA, use pacifiers to prevent the grinding of teeth--a common side effect of MDMA use--and wave glow sticks in front of their eyes because MDMA stimulates light perception.


Law Enforcement Targets Rave at Ranch

In June 2001, 123 law enforcement personnel from the Laramie County Sheriff's Office, the Wyoming DCI, and other agencies participated in a joint enforcement operation centered on a rave at a ranch south of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Between 3,000 and 4,000 people attended the event. Officials stopped and examined 366 vehicles and seized thousands of doses of MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, marijuana, cocaine, morphine, and ketamine. Drug charges were filed against 80 individuals; 6 individuals were charged with felony drug possession. According to the DCI, about 95 percent of the vehicles stopped had Colorado plates.

Source: Casper Star-Tribune, 27 June 2001.

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Of the limited threat posed by ODDs to Wyoming, LSD is considered the most significant. According to the Wyoming Attorney General's Office, LSD is more prevalent in the state than MDMA, GHB, or heroin. LSD is transported to Wyoming in private vehicles from Denver, Colorado, and the West Coast. The San Francisco, California, area is the primary source of LSD for the Rocky Mountain region. The price of the drug ranges from $1 to $5 per dosage unit at the retail level.

In Wyoming hallucinogen abuse, the most common of which is LSD, is a greater concern than heroin abuse. Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health, Division of Substance Abuse, indicate that there were 9 admissions to public treatment for hallucinogen abuse in 1997, 15 admissions in 1998, and 6 admissions in 1999. TEDS data indicate the same trend, with 8 admissions for hallucinogen abuse in 1997, 16 admissions in 1998, and 6 admissions in 1999.

Seizure and arrest data suggest that LSD is available in sufficient quantity to satisfy user demand in the state. In 1998 DCI reported the largest amount of LSD seized in Wyoming since 1996--3,102 dosage units--in connection with a series of enforcement operations against LSD distributors. These operations at least temporarily diminished the availability of LSD. In 1999 a total of 155 dosage units were seized, and in 2000 law enforcement agencies seized 320 dosage units, primarily as the result of enforcement operations. The Wyoming DCI arrested eight individuals in 1999 for violations involving hallucinogens and six in 2000.



GHB, also known as liquid ecstasy, scoop, grievous bodily harm, and Georgia home boy, is abused for its euphoric, sedative, and anabolic effects; however, its use can induce coma and cause insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. GHB combined with methamphetamine increases the risk of seizures. Overdoses can occur quickly; some of the effects include drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, impaired breathing, and death. GHB is eliminated from the body quickly and may be difficult to detect in emergency rooms and other treatment facilities. The drug increasingly is implicated in poisonings, overdoses, sexual assaults, and fatalities. GHB can be produced from easily obtained ingredients, one of which is GBL (gamma-butyrolactone), a solvent commonly sold as a paint stripper.

GBL is a List I chemical used in the manufacture of GHB and, when taken orally, is metabolized into GHB in the body. On January 21, 1999, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning concerning food supplement products containing GBL. The FDA requested that producers recall all products containing the additive. According to a January 2000 report, GBL was implicated in at least six deaths nationwide. GBL is sold commonly in powder or liquid forms at some gyms, fitness centers, and health food stores. The process for manufacturing GHB involves mixing GBL with either sodium or potassium hydroxide. The final GHB product varies depending on whether water or alcohol is used as a solvent in the process. When water is used, the final product is a colorless, viscous, clear solution. When alcohol is used, the final product is a white solid.

GHB is not considered a major ODD threat to Wyoming. However, a large GHB laboratory was seized in March 2000 from a storage locker facility in Laramie County. Two 55-gallon drums filled with GHB precursor chemicals--dihydrofuranone, potassium hydroxide, and sodium hydroxide--were found in the storage locker. With the amounts of potassium and sodium hydroxide seized, the laboratory was capable of producing up to 69 kilograms of GHB; with some additional chemicals, the laboratory could have produced 120 kilograms or more than 2.5 million tablets. Four cases containing a total of 24,000 GHB tablets also were seized; each case contained 12 bottles filled with 500 tablets each. The production capacity of this laboratory indicates that GHB was intended for broad distribution outside the state. The investigation of the organization operating this laboratory has generated links to 12 other states and one foreign country.

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MDMA is taken orally in tablet or capsule form. The user begins to feel the effects within 1 hour of ingestion. Effects may last up to 6 hours, depending on dosage, purity, and the environment in which it is taken. Some users take multiple doses to extend the effect, sometimes consuming as many as 10 tablets in a single night.

The physical and psychological effects of MDMA use vary widely. MDMA use greatly increases blood pressure and heart rate and can result in heart failure or heat stroke. Body temperature can increase to 109 degrees during physical exertion. Obvious physical effects include muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness, chills or sweating, extreme relaxation, and tremors. MDMA is a mood/mind-altering drug affecting brain serotonin levels. Common psychological effects are feelings of emotional closeness coupled with the breakdown of personal communication barriers, a sense of peace with oneself and the world, an enhanced sense of pleasure, greater self-confidence, and an increased sense of energy. Some users may experience panic attacks.

Wyoming authorities report that the availability of MDMA is increasing. Although Wyoming does not have a significant rave culture, raves are becoming more frequent in the southeastern corner of the state. Some Wyoming MDMA users travel to rave locations in northern Colorado, such as Fort Collins and Denver, to participate in all-night events. The Rocky Mountain HIDTA and the Wyoming DCI indicate that MDMA availability has increased in the southeastern corner of the state--particularly in Laramie and Albany Counties--due to its proximity to Denver, Colorado. The Wyoming DCI reports that most of those arrested at a large June 2001 rave south of Cheyenne were residents of Colorado. The DCI conducted three investigations involving MDMA distribution in Cheyenne and Laramie between July and October of 2000. A fourth investigation during this period was conducted in the Sheridan area in northern Wyoming. MDMA in Wyoming generally sells for $13 to $28 per tablet but can be as high as $50 per tablet in remote areas of the state.

Man Gets Maximum for 139 Pounds of Ecstasy

In March 2001 an Israeli citizen residing in California was arrested along I-80 near Cheyenne after a Wyoming Highway Patrol officer found 139 pounds of MDMA in the suspect's rental car--the largest seizure of ecstasy on the nation's highways. The man was traveling from New York City to Las Vegas with almost 210,000 MDMA tablets hidden in sealed containers in luggage in the vehicle's trunk. The MDMA was valued between $1.5 million and $6 million. In September 2001 the suspect was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison for possession with intent to deliver.

Source: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, 25 September 2001.

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Psilocybin, also known as cubes, liberty caps, magic mushrooms, mushies, mushrooms, psilocybes, and shrooms, is the psychoactive ingredient found in certain mushrooms, notably, two Mexican species--psilocybe Mexicana and stropharia cubensis. Hallucinogenic mushrooms used in religious ceremonies by the Indians of Mexico were considered sacred and were called "God's flesh" by the Aztecs. In the 1950s the active ingredients psilocin and psilocybin were isolated from the Mexican mushrooms. They are not used in modern medicine. Psilocyn and psilocybin produce effects similar to those produced by mescaline and LSD. The chemicals take effect within 20 to 30 minutes and last about 6 hours depending on dosage.

Psilocybin is available in Wyoming in limited quantities but is not considered a significant threat. In 1999 the Rocky Mountain HIDTA reported psilocybin seizures by three agencies. In 2000 state and local agencies seized 350 grams of psilocybin, including a half-pound seizure by the Wyoming Highway Patrol in March. The average retail price of psilocybin is $200 per ounce. The Laramie Police Department reports that psilocybin is available among Laramie's college student population, particularly botany students. Those who abuse the drug transport psilocybin to Wyoming from Denver, Colorado, in private vehicles.



Inhalants include a broad range of chemical vapors that are inhaled, typically by youths, in hopes of achieving a short euphoric effect. Typical inhalants include solvents, household or industrial cleaners, glues, and gasoline. Use of inhalants is very risky, and a single episode can lead to brain damage, asphyxiation, and serious health problems.

Inhalant use is a problem among Wyoming youth. Lifetime inhalant use among Wyoming's high school student population is higher than the national average. According to the 1999 YRBS, approximately 18 percent of student respondents in Wyoming had used inhalants in their lifetime, compared with about 15 percent nationally. Student respondents reported current use of inhalants at a rate equal to the national average of 4.2 percent. Wyoming currently has no laws governing the sale to minors of products commonly used as inhalants. In 1999 five admissions to substance abuse treatment for inhalant abuse were reported to the Wyoming Department of Health, Division of Substance Abuse, and four admissions for inhalant abuse were reported to TEDS.


Diverted Pharmaceuticals

Few law enforcement agencies in Wyoming report a threat posed by diverted pharmaceuticals. Among the diverted pharmaceuticals most abused in Wyoming are Percodan, Percocet, and Ritalin. The most common methods of obtaining diverted pharmaceuticals in Wyoming include securing prescriptions from multiple doctors--known as doctor shopping--and prescription fraud. Several local agencies report that some parents sell their children's Ritalin prescriptions on the street. From spring through summer 2001 the Wyoming DCI investigated four diversion cases involving foreign pharmacies contacted via the Internet.

Very few law enforcement agencies report the abuse of oxycodone products in Wyoming. Nonetheless, law enforcement personnel statewide maintain a watch for OxyContin abuse. In 2001 the Wyoming DCI reported its first investigation involving OxyContin, following a controlled delivery to a Jackson woman who had ordered the drug via the Internet. The package was delivered from a Mexican pharmacy via California. The woman told authorities that she had previously received at least four other shipments of pharmaceuticals from the Mexican pharmacy without a prescription.

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