The Mystery of the Tainted Cocaine
Typically, additional ingredients like sugar, baking powder or laxatives are added to pure cocaine, to dilute the potency and increase quantity. Known as “cutting agents,” it’s filler – stuff to make it appear as though there’s more drug than is actually there.
Recently, amounts of levamisole – typically used by farmers to de-worm cows and pigs – have been found. This began about 5 years ago, and has gotten increasingly more prevalent.
The danger with levamisole is that it can potentially cause what’s known as agranulocytosis – a huge crash in the body’s immune system. It affects different people in different ways: some folks might experience infections or diarrhea, others might never know they have it and get better on their own. Others never recover, and die.
It’s strange that drug suppliers would choose levamisole. It’s more expensive than other cutting agents, and it also increases the chance that their customers will get sick/die.
On top of that, studies seem to suggest that levamisole is being added in at the source of drug production, before it arrives in the US. Which is really puzzling, as it increases the amount of cocaine transported (and as a result, increases the risk of being caught).
There are two articles (part of a series). The first is The Mystery of the Tainted Cocaine, and the second is a follow-up: The Cocaine Trade. Both are by Brendan Kiley, and both are incredibly well written.