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Cocaine tablets found (12/29/04)
Our good friends over at Microgram have reported the discovery of an unusual batch of tablets, initially believed to be MDMA, which instead contained a mixture of cocaine, caffeine, and aspirin. The tablets were "an unusual “sandwich” type design, with a thick green middle section and a white layer on each side":
As usual, Microgram is uninformative about the circumstances of the seizure. Their small size and use of coloring and a logo is consistent with 'ecstasy' tablets, supporting the belief that they may have been sold as counterfeit 'ecstasy'. The construction of the tablets is very unusual; the multi-layer compositions suggests a sophisticated manufacturing operation, while the poor durability suggests just the opposite (due to inadequate pressing pressures or improper choices of binders.) The presence of caffeine is common in counterfeit 'ecstasy' tablets, but the presence of aspirin borders on the bizarre, having no psychoactive properties of it's own. Crushed aspirin tablets may have been used as the pill binder.
• The publication of the online version of Microgram has fallen badly behind schedule. Microgram's editor declined to comment when asked if this was due to an effort to frustrate people involved in the drug trade or simply due to incompetence. If you'd like to ask him yourself, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Postscript: Shortly after this story was posted the Microgram archives were updated and have been maintained much more dillegently since. Coincidence?
Yet another 'cocaine pill' (2/15/05)
Microgram has yet again reported a batch of tablets containing cocaine (20 mg of cocaine in a 273 mg tablet):
As with the previously reported cocaine tablets (below), they did not contain any 'ecstasy' type drug but did contain acetaminophen and caffeine (implying that these tablets were made by grinding up an over-the-counter medication, adding cocaine, and re-pressing the mixture into new tablets.)
These tablets remain a great mystery to me. Is it some sort of effort to conveniently package cocaine (the tablets could be crushed and snorted)? Although it's conceivable that they are genuinely intended to be sold as fake 'ecstasy' tablets, that explanation isn't entirely satisfying either; the relatively high cost and low oral potency of cocaine (it's relatively quickly metabolized) combined with it's ability to interfere with MDMA-type drugs make it a much less attractive choice than methamphetamine as an ingredient for fake 'ecstasy' pills.