Police and border agents are expected to announce in Kelowna this morning details of a major seizure of bath salts, considered a highly addictive drug. (U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency photo)
Elite police officers and border agents have chosen the city as their location for a news conference about a "significant seizure" of the narcotic in B.C. RCMP weren't saying Wednesday where the seizure took place, but it's apparent the Okanagan is central to the bust.
Kelowna is widely regarded as a distribution hub for illicit drugs and headquarters for organized crime in the Interior. The drugs of choice are marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamines.
Bath salts are made of cathinones, a potent, highly addictive stimulant that in some users can bring on psychosis. The synthetic drug is often marketed as a form of ecstasy. It's a white powder that's becoming more popular among people ages 15 to 20 in the U.S.
Many refer to it as the "zombie drug" because of the effect it can have on the body. Numerous news reports in 2012 highlighted the violent behaviour that bath salts can foment.
Symptoms of the drug's use include hallucinations and paranoia. Some users become so agitated, they revert to a primal psychosis.
"Those individuals will be nonsensical in conversation - grunts, groans, sweats. Their eyelids will open as much as possible to let sunlight in. They're in excited delirium and hyper-agitated," said Kelowna RCMP spokesman Const. Kris Clark.
The drug is linked to a 2012 incident in Miami in which a 31-year-old man allegedly attacked a man twice his age. He began ripping his face apart with his teeth and refused to stop. Police shot and killed the aggressor at the scene.
A similar incident occurred when a Louisiana man allegedly bit off a portion of his neighbour's face.
Ottawa announced in June 2012 it planned to regulate methylenedioxypyrovalerone, the main ingredient in bath salts. The drug is now illegal under Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which legislates heroin and cocaine.
The proliferation of bath salts is
considered small in Canada, although
police in Newfoundland say it has been available in that province for over three years.
Senior Mounties in B.C. are concerned enough to invite reporters to the Kelowna detachment at 11:30 a.m. Members of the RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) and the Canada Border Services Agency are attending.
FSOC officers were involved in busting the Hells Angels clubhouse and several other headquarters for suspected gang activity in B.C. last year.
On Oct. 14, members seized 196 pounds of marijuana and arrested two men in Manitoba after a two-month investigation.