Louisville, KY - Recently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Louisville UPS express consignment operation seized over 33 pounds of prohibited substances including synthetic marijuana compound JWH-018; an analog derivative of JWH-018, and packages of Afghan incense. CBP officers found the compounds within four shipments, all originating in China and destined to various locations throughout the country.
The CBP examination revealed an unidentifiable white powder in Ziploc bags, 1,000 individual packages of Afgan incense, and bags made of foil consistent with past interdictions of synthetic designer drugs. CBP Laboratory and Scientific Services in Chicago confirmed the material was JWH-018 and a JWH-018 analog. It is estimated that one gram of synthetic marijuana contains 1/10 tenth of a percent of JWH-018, which means over 300 pounds of synthetic marijuana could be produced using the seized shipments.
"Using synthetic marijuana is extremely dangerous. You have no idea what you're ingesting," said Steven Artino, Acting CBP Director of Field Operations in Chicago. "These CBP seizures are a great example of our officers and Laboratory and Scientific Services working together to identify and seize substances that could harm our community."
JWH-018 originated at Clemson University, where researchers developed synthetic cannabinoids in an effort to create therapeutic drugs; however, it also can mimic the narcotic effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The original developers have said that the effects in humans have not been studied and could very well be toxic. Side effects can include elevated heart rates, extreme paranoia, vomiting and hallucinations.
On March 1, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a final order to temporarily place several synthetic cannabinoids into the Controlled Substances Act pursuant to temporary scheduling provisions.
CBP officers and agriculture specialists are stationed at the express consignment facilities located throughout the country. CBP works very closely with UPS to support our mission without disrupting express consignment operations. CBP constantly conducts enforcement operations on international parcels and is always on the lookout for any type of contraband or prohibited items being shipped into, from or through the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.