The synthetic drug is a form of Ecstasy with more potency, said Murfreesboro Police Detective Lt. Eric Cook. It sells for $15 to $20 for each gelatin capsule.
“It is supposed to be a more purer form of Ecstasy but it’s not as prevalent as regular Ecstasy,” Cook said.
Like Ecstasy, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reported Molly causes increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. It has no medicinal purpose.
Cook and sheriff’s Lt. Egon Grissom of the Narcotics Division and Lt. Chris Haynes described the most common illegal drugs being sold in Rutherford County. Their observations include:
• Marijuana and cocaine still remain the most popular drugs sold in the city and county.
Marijuana ranges from the homegrown variety produced outdoors and from Mexico at $750 to $900 a pound, hydroponically grown in water indoors at $2,500 to $4,500 a pound and the most potent British Columbian “BC Bud” grown in Canada at $3,800 a pound.
Vice detectives seized 90 pounds of British Columbia marijuana during an operation last December in Murfreesboro. Street value was estimated at $400,000.
Haynes said ICE deputies intercepted 38 pounds of hydroponic marijuana en route to Tampa this year.
“He (the suspect) had a list of 17 strains of marijuana he could sell,” Haynes said.
Grissom said most marijuana growers cultivate inside for security and production reasons.
“We seem to have more indoor grows because you’re not as dependent on the weather,” Grissom said.
Narcotics detectives harvested 65 plants from an indoor operation last month with a street value of $100,000 from a California man who recently moved to Rutherford County.
“He (the suspect) was mad because we said his marijuana wasn’t as good as he thought it was,” Grissom said with a chuckle.
Haynes said growers from the Northwest are shipping hydroponically grown marijuana to the Southeast.
Regarding cocaine, Cook said the illegal drug is easy to buy from a small crack cocaine rock at $20 to $950 an ounce for powder cocaine originating in Colombia.
The price rose because of increased enforcement at the Mexican border.
“As far as chemicals you ingest in your body, cocaine is still king,” Cook said.
• More people are obtaining prescription drugs illegally.
ICE deputies confiscated more than 8,300 units of Dilaudid, a synthetic heroin painkiller, earning an award for the 2008 Largest Highway Prescription Pharmaceutical Seizure from the National Criminal Enforcement Association.
Cook said Lortab and Oxycontin seem to be the two most common prescription drugs sold illegally. Other ones are morphine pills.
People obtain the drugs from forged prescriptions, pharmacy burglaries, home and car burglaries and from visits to multiple doctors.
For example, Grissom said someone will describe symptoms to several doctors and obtain prescriptions from each doctor.
Grissom said some people will report false prescription thefts to get the prescription refilled faster.
• Since the state made it tougher to obtain ephedrine, methamphetamine sales dropped tremendously. Employees who notice customers buying large amounts of ephedrine, an ingredient in cold medicine, will notify law enforcement officers immediately to launch an investigation.
Haynes said drug dealers still transport methamphetamine on Interstate 24 through Rutherford County.
ICE deputies seized 19 pounds of methamphetamine last year, earning the division an award for the “Largest Methamphetamine Seizure” from the National Criminal Enforcement Association.
• LSD and psychedelic mushrooms arrests increased last year in Murfreesboro.
“We have recovered LSD in every form you can think of, liquid, traditional blotter acid on paper and sugar cubes,” Cook said.
• Some heroin has been seized. The expensive drug sells for several hundred dollars a gram.
Drugs being sold
Cook said city dealers sell both powder and crack cocaine.
Crack cocaine transactions normally occur in lower-income neighborhoods.
Other drugs are sold throughout Murfreesboro.
“We made cases all over town,” Cook said. “We’re buying drugs in houses and from individuals in every section of the city. Arrests are not limited to one specific part of Murfreesboro or one group of people. There’s no one specific demographic that would mark someone.”
Haynes and Grissom aren’t finding a lot of Ecstasy in the county but Cook relates an increase.
“In the city, we’ve seen a huge increase in the use of Ecstasy, and the frequency has increased more than any other drug,” Cook said.
DEA described Ecstasy as a stimulant and psychedelic drug producing an energizing effect. Juveniles and young adults feel euphoric when using the drug. Risks include increases in heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, blurred vision and faintness.
Cook said high school student and young adults into their early 30s use the tablets, usually imported from Canada or transported from the West Coast.
It’s about the size of a baby aspirin, Cook said, explaining it appears like a dinner roll. In slang, it’s called a “roll.”
“The markings on the tablets are happy faces, the Nike swoosh and shapes of transformers’ heads,” Cook said.
Previously, the drug was popular at “Rave” parties for young adults.
“It’s gone outside the ‘Ravers,’” Cook said. “We have run into people here traditionally selling cocaine who are selling Ecstasy also. There’s a demand for it. It sells for $12-15 a tablet.”
Grissom said narcotics detectives were preparing to serve a search warrant Wednesday night on a marijuana investigation.
Besides their own cases, Grissom said detectives work with other agencies to share information.
For example, pharmacists, law enforcement officers and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are working together to report suspicious people obtaining large amounts of prescription medications.
Haynes said the ICE officers patrol the interstate at different times. They heard about their effectiveness through DEA agents who received information drug traffickers are avoiding Rutherford County “because of our presence,” Haynes said.
Cook said vice detectives work investigations ranging from the low-level street dealers who barely make a living through the long-term drug suppliers.
When their investigations lead outside Murfreesboro, the detectives forward the case to drug task forces, state agencies or the DEA.
“We work every day,” Cook said. “We’re constantly every day making buys and doing surveillance and using investigative techniques.”
Grissom said they follow all tips called into their office at 615-895-3609.
“Without the public’s help, we can’t do it,” Grissom said. “We’re definitely working. We’re doing our best to put a dent in it.”