MOUNT VERNON — Berries. Boy. Tar. Gravel.
By themselves, these words mean nothing. To a drug user, they are just the right lingo they need to score heroin.
Blow. Nose candy. Rock. Girl. All street names for cocaine.
The culture that surrounds drug abuse and drug trafficking — including the language — is constantly evolving, ever changing with technology, and is alive and thriving in the neighborhoods of Knox County. From the outside looking in, it can be difficult to comprehend. Education, such as information shared during Tuesday’s first town hall meeting on the drug problem, can go a long way in helping the public understand what they see, hear and even smell, and how they can turn that into useful information for law enforcement.
Detective Cpl. James DeChant of the Mount Vernon Police Department and Detective Lt. Craig Feeney of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office gave an overview on the most prevalent drugs on the local market.
Today’s marijuana is not your grandfather’s weed, according to Feeney. The THC levels in today’s offerings are three times as potent as what was sold in the 1970s. It would take 17 1/2 joints from the ’70s to equal one joint sold on the street today, he said.
“Dabs” offer concentrated THC in an oily composition and is often sold as candy or edibles and can be as high as 95 percent pure.
Marijuana trafficking is “still huge” and busts often result in seizure of the drug, cash and weapons.
Other new pot products include “wax” and “budder” and both offer high concentrations of THC.
“This by far is one of the biggest issues we are facing in Knox County right now,” Feeney said.
Small meth labs started popping up in the county in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he said. Ingredients can be picked up in just two stops — the pharmacy and the hardware store.
The smell of a “cook” is quite distinctive and can include the sweet smell of camp fuel, sulfuric acid from a hot car battery and/or ammonia or ether smells. The residual effects of a cook, however, are hazardous and anyone that notices the smells from a cook should clear the area and call law enforcement.
Signs of meth use include weight loss, sweating, sores that won’t heal, twitching and shaking, moodiness, aggressive and violent behavior, and paranoia.
“With the onset of meth, there is increased violence. They all think they have to have guns and that’s in our community. Their reality is different than ours,” Feeney said of a meth user. “They have heightened audio/visual clarity. They perceive things as threats we don’t see as threats and they think you will attack when you won’t.”
Ice, Speed, Go, Shards and Tina are some of the most common street names for meth.
Heroin is rather cheap, $10-$20 a hit, and highly addictive. What makes heroin even more dangerous is the synthetic additives used to stretch heroin to have more to sell. Fentanyl and carfentanyl are cutting agents used today and even on their own, can be deadly.
When users buy heroin, they have no idea what they are buying or how much fentanyl or carfentanyl, or any other additive, may be in the product. According to Feeney, cargentanyl is 10,000 times more potent than morphine.
DeChant explained MVPD has purchased what they believed to be heroin and lab test results showed there was more fentanyl in the sample than heroin.
It has been projected, Feeney said, that in the future, heroin “will be all fentanyl.”
Feeney also confirmed that the last few fatal heroin overdoses had either fentanyl or cargentanyl in them.
Cocaine/crack is returning to the ranks of sought after illegal drugs. Other abused drugs include bath salts, Spice (synthetic marijuana), inhalants, large doses of cold medications and vapor cigarettes with synthetic oils.
Those who witness suspicious activity can report information through anonymous tip lines at 740-399-3959 (KCSO) or 740-393-9500 (MVPD).
Suspicious activity can include increased foot, vehicle or bicycle traffic, where drug paraphernalia is found, vehicle descriptions, license plate numbers, addresses, names or descriptions of suspects.
Those with photos of suspicious activity or license plate numbers can find email addresses available at www.knoxcountysheriff.com/index.php/detective-division and www.mvpd.mountvernonohio.org/contacts/. Those submitting pictures are asked to include location, time and any other information they feel pertinent to the situation.