NATCHITOCHES PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Authorities in Natchitoches parish have seen a rise in drug use in the area, and some users might be getting more dangerous drugs than they think.
Sheriff Victor Jones issued a statement on Monday saying that the parish has seen a rise of narcotics and other dangerous substances.
"First and foremost, all illegal narcotics are dangerous and could be deadly," Jones said in a news release. "The people who sell narcotics on the streets have no regard for the well-being of the user other than to keep them hooked on their poison. Our drug task force is out there working every day and night to arrest drug pushers and bring these people to justice."
Ninety percent of the suspected Ecstasy tablets seized during the past eight months were not that at all, according to Assistant Chief Jesse Taitano, co-commander of the Natchitoches Mulch-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force. Nearly all of the tablets were methamphetamine, and a small number of the tablets were a mixture of methamphetamine and substituted cathinone — also known as bath salts.
"Our task force agents are very concerned about this because the user believes they are purchasing Ecstasy, but instead are getting a more potent and highly addictive dose of another drug," Taitano said. "This is what is now popularly known as 'Molly'. Clandestine manufacturers are substituting MDMA with mainly bath salts and Methamphetamine in these tablets due to access to them are cheaper and more readily available. Bath salts and Methamphetamine are both highly addictive and have been linked to overdoses throughout the country."
The mulch-jurisdictional drug task force also has seized illegal narcotics that have been disguised as prescription narcotic painkillers. Pills seized from a local drug dealer were thought to be oxycodone, but lab tests showed that it was, in fact, heroin.
"These drugs obtained on the street, even though they look like an authentic prescription medication, may be fake and deadly," Jones said. "Don't take any prescription drug unless they have been prescribed to you by your physician and is dispensed by a legitimate pharmacy."
Agents have also seized packages of synthetic marijuana. After testing it was found that the substances also contained phencyclidine, also known as PCP and angel dust.
"You are putting yourself in great danger if you consume synthetic marijuana, Ecstasy, or other designer drugs as they may be laced with deadly narcotics," Harrington said. "Don't waste your life on one stupid mistake."
District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington said that if someone would die after using drugs, the seller may have committed second-degree murder. The charge carries a life sentence upon conviction.
"Our office will prosecute these offenses," Harrington said.
To report dangerous drugs, authorities ask that they call the Natchitoches Mulch-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force call (318) 357-2248. Callers can remain anonymous.
"Help us save the next life, whether it's yours, your friend's, or a family member's," Jones said. "Help us break this deadly cycle of narcotics addiction in Natchitoches Parish. Do not take these drugs. They will kill you. I can't say it any plainer than this."