The St. John’s drug scene

CBC’s David Cochrane on the darker side to oil-fueled prosperity in my hometown:

St. John’s is the hottest cocaine market in Atlantic Canada. At least that’s what the drug dealers whom the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary arrests tell the police officers.

The volumes of cocaine coming into the city are enormous,in spite of the many arrests and the relative geographic isolation. The spike in disposable incomes from the local oil boom and commuter workers from western Canada is fueling the demand. It is the dark side of prosperity.

Friday’s announcement of a $1-million police task force to tackle drugs and organized crime shows how true that is.

But embedded into that drug trade is a streak of hidden and unreported violence. There’s a rash of drug dealers ripping off other drug dealers. There are home invasions in areas much nicer than Tessier Place where stick-up crews are trying to rip off a dealer’s dope stash or his bank roll.

Police and prosecutors hear of severe beatings using bats,crowbars,brass knuckles and bear spray. The victims of these beatings often refuse to give the police a statement even if they end up in hospital with life-threatening injuries. After all,how do you tell a cop that the guy who hurt you did it in order to steal your cocaine stash?

So much for that narrative

Bloggers sometimes refer to a “48-hour rule,” which states that people should hold off making sweeping judgments about a news story until sufficient time has passed for all the facts to be known.  The face-eater case from Florida, supposedly a warning about the effects of “bath salts,” suggests that we should make that a 48-day rule:

Authorities may never know why a Florida man viciously attacked and chewed on the face of an older homeless man in Miami last month after lab tests failed to find components of “bath salts” in the system of the assailant, who was killed by police.

The tests detected only marijuana in the system of the attacker, the medical examiner said Wednesday, ruling out other street drugs that some had speculated 31-year-old Rudy Eugene might have taken.

An expert on toxicology testing said marijuana alone wasn’t likely to cause behavior as strange as Eugene’s.

“The problem today is that there is an almost an infinite number of chemical substances out there that can trigger unusual behavior,” said Dr. Bruce Goldberger, Professor and Director of Toxicology at the University of Florida.

Goldberger said the medical examiner’s office in Miami is known for doing thorough work and he’s confident they and the independent lab covered as much ground as possible. But it’s nearly impossible for toxicology testing to keep pace with new formulations of synthetic drugs.

[…]

The department ruled out the most common components found in so-called bath salts, which mimic the effects of cocaine or methamphetamine and have been associated with bizarre crimes in recent months. An outside forensic toxicology lab, which took a second look at the results, also confirmed the absence of bath salts, synthetic marijuana and LSD.

Does anyone else find it even more unnerving, that there’s a guy out there who didn’t need bath salts to start eating a guy’s face?

Update: “The Bath Salt Panic Wall of Shame.”