Hello and welcome to our News archives.
In this section you will find newspaper and journal clippings regarding the occurrence and use of visionary mushrooms examined by the DEA Laboratories around the USA. I cannot fault them in their errors but if you read some of these notes from thier publications, they really are not hip to entheogens.
The news items are arranged Chronologically by dates. However, these may not be in any order. And there will be more of them in the future.
SUSPECTED PSILOCYBE MUSHROOM SPORES IN DETROIT, MICHIGAN
The DEA North Central Laboratory (Chicago, Illinois) recently received three glass vials containing a clear solution, suspected Psilocybe mushroom spores in water. The exhibits were originally contained in three syringes, and were purchased in Detroit, Michigan by agents from the DEA Detroit Division (details withheld in accordance with Microgram policy). The total net weight and volume of the samples was 35.9 grams (40.0 milliliters).
A growth cycle was initiated for all three samples in order to determine whether or not Psilocybe mushrooms could be produced. A standard underground procedure was used (obtained from an Internet site; details withheld in accordance with Microgram policy). Mycelium growth was observed after about 3 weeks; however, only two small mushrooms grew (which were harvested after 78 days). Analysis of methanolic extracts of the two mushrooms by GC/MS indicated no controlled substances, suggesting that the mushrooms were not Psilocybe mushrooms. It is unclear whether the sale was a scam, or if the solution was contaminated during the transfer from the syringes to the vials, or if there was some other unknown problem with the solution or cultivation procedures. This is the first time that a mushroom grow has been performed at the North Central Laboratory.
SUSPECTED PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOM CULTIVATION OPERATION SEIZED
[IN ESPANOLA, NEW MEXICO]
[From the NDIC Narcotics Digest Weekly 2004;3(26):2
Unclassified, Reprinted with Permission.]
On May 17, 2004, New Mexico State Police narcotics agents seized a suspected psilocybin mushroom cultivation operation located in an Espanola residence. The mushroom grow operation was uncovered during the execution of a search warrant issued in connection with the investigation of a suspected cocaine distributor. A male occupant of the residence, who was the target of the cocaine investigation, was arrested on an outstanding warrant for methamphetamine production in Farmington and subsequently admitted to operating the mushroom grow site. The grow was located in a bedroom within the residence. Mushroom cultures were placed in glass jars containing rice and placed in three separate refrigerators in the bedroom. The refrigerators were covered with a plastic tent and equipped with a humidifier to aid growth. Over 500 jars of cultures and mushrooms were seized.
NDIC Comment: Psilocybin mushrooms contain psilocybin, a Schedule I controlled substance that may induce hallucinations. Psilocybin mushrooms often are available at raves, dance clubs, and college campuses and are most commonly abused by teenagers and young adults. While seizures of personal use amounts (usually one quarter ounce quantities) of psilocybin mushrooms are common in northern New Mexico, a seizure of this magnitude is extremely rare and represents the first large scale production site seized in the area. Additionally, this case demonstrates a trend toward polydrug distribution. The defendant, whose illegal activities allegedly included cocaine distribution, methamphetamine production, and mushroom cultivation, is one of an increasing number of drug traffickers who distribute more than one drug.
- INTELLIGENCE ALERT -
70,000 PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOM/CHOCOLATE
CANDIES SEIZED NEAR AMARILLO, TEXAS
The Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory Service in Amarillo (Amarillo, Texas) recently received a submission of approximately 70,000 chocolate candies (total net mass 154 kilograms), suspected psilocybin mushroom/chocolate concoctions. The exhibits were seized
by the Texas State Highway Patrol pursuant to a vehicle stop on I-40, just west of Amarillo (the vehicle was travelling from California to Tennessee). The candies were being stored in the vehicle’s trunk in trash bags, under what appeared to be a space blanket, and were furthermore being cooled by dry ice (see Photos 1 and 2). There were two, rather indistinct designs - a fish, and a cameo (see Photos 3 and 4). Microscopic examination of a crushed sample revealed a large amount of finely ground, mushroom-like material mixed into the chocolate. Analysis of this material by TLC, UV, and GC/MS confirmed psilocin (quantitation not performed). This was the laboratory’s first encounter with psilocybin mushroom/chocolate candies, and in fact was the first encounter with any adulterated form of psilocybin mushrooms. The laboratory’s largest previous submission of psilocybin mushrooms was just over seven kilograms.
[Editor’s Notes: This appears to be the largest seizure of psilocybin mushroom/chocolate concoctions ever reported. The phenomenon of psilocybin mushroom/chocolate concoctions was discussed at length in the June, 2003 issue of Microgram Bulletin (with additional reports also being published in the May, August, and October 2003 issues of Microgram Bulletin). A specialized forensic analysis for these concoctions was published in Microgram Journal 2003;1(3-4):177.]
PERUVIAN TORCH OR SAN PEDRO CACTI IN WISCONSIN
Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory-Madison (Madison, Wisconsin) recently received two separate submissions of plant material having the physical appearance of sliced and dried cucumbers, suspected Peruvian Torch cacti (total net mass 1,030 grams) and psilocybe mushrooms (total net mass 18 grams), respectively (law enforcement organization, location, and circumstances of seizures not provided). The “mushrooms” were quickly recognized as actually being either Peruvian Torch or San Pedro cacti. These cacti are tubular-type plants from South America that contain mescaline. When harvested, spines are removed from the tubers, which are then sliced into disks and dried, giving them the appearance of dried cucumbers with green edges (see Photo 19). Following an acid-base extraction workup, analysis by GC/MS confirmed mescaline in both exhibits (quantitation not performed). These were the first known submissions of these type cacti to the laboratory.
HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE CONTAINING PSILOCIN/PSILOCYBIN
IN NORTH RIDGEFIELD, OHIO
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation Laboratory (Richfield, Ohio) recently received eight pieces of homemade chocolate containing suspected psilocybin mushrooms (total net mass 145.76 grams; see Photo 6. Note that the four displayed pieces in the photo were split from one of the original eight pieces. The original pieces had shapes that suggested they were originally molded in an ice-cube tray) The exhibits were seized by the North Ridgeville Police Department, and were associated with an upcoming concert in the area. Inspection of each piece revealed the presence of vegetable matter (see photo), which was separated by particle-picking. Analysis of a methanol extract by TLC and GC/MS confirmed the presence of psilocin and psilocybin. This is the first submission of this type to this laboratory; however, a second submission containing over 150 similar homemade chocolate bars with suspected psilocin/psilocybin mushrooms was subsequently submitted; this latter seizure was made in Solon, Ohio and was also associated with the referenced concert.
"HOMEMADE" CHOCOLATES CONTAINING PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS
APPEARING ACROSS THE UNITED STATES
Editor's Preface: In April and May 2003, the DEA Office of Forensic Sciences received multiple reports of homemade chocolates containing ground-up psilocybin mushroom parts. Three of the reports were from State and Local forensic laboratories and/or police departments in Ohio, Oregon, and Rhode Island. The fourth was reported by the DEA Mid-Atlantic Laboratory (Largo, Maryland), and was seized in Virginia. Additionally, a similar report concerning a seizure in Vail, Colorado was published in the National Drug Intelligence Center's (NDIC's) April 29, 2003 issue of the Narcotics Digest Weekly. The NDIC report also included a summary brief of a number of similar seizures dating back as far as two years.
In several cases, the seizures were multi-kilo. There were two common elements among most of the seizures: First, the chocolates all appeared to have been made from molds - in several cases, using candy molds, and in other cases apparently using ice-cube trays (and the seizure in Virginia was received in an ice-cube tray). In addition, in several cases, the chocolates were wrapped in colored foil.
These reports are the first seen by the Office of Forensic Sciences. As noted above, however, the NDIC report indicates that similar exhibits were seized in the Vail, Colorado area as long as two years ago, and furthermore refers to additional seizures made in Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, West Virginia, and Wisconsin since the initial seizure in Vail. The NDIC brief also indicates that the source may be "psilocybin mushroom cultivators in Oregon and Washington who transport the drug via package delivery services", and reported the seizures of over 250 pounds of material in nine incidents by an airport interdiction team in Portland, Oregon. The above referenced report from the Oregon State Police Forensic Laboratory in Portland confirmed five such seizures since October 2002 (probably included in the NDIC total).
The first report of these chocolates (from North Ridgefield, Ohio) in Microgram Bulletin was reported in the May 2003 issue. The other three referenced seizures (or sets of seizures) are reported below. The above referenced intelligence brief from the Narcotics Digest Weekly is also reproduced below.
RESPONSES REQUESTED: The widespread appearances, seizure amounts, and similarities of preparation (candy molds or ice cube trays) and sales packaging (wrapping in colored foil), suggest the possibility of a common source (or a loose confederation of sources) and a nationwide distribution network. The DEA Dangerous Drugs Strategic Intelligence Unit (NTSG) and the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) are both interested in this issue. Subscribers are asked to forward details to NTSG by FAX to 202/307-7916, Attn: J. Hines; and to NDIC by email to < firstname.lastname@example.org
IN PORTLAND, OREGON
[Summary Report] Beginning in October 2002, the Oregon State Police Forensic Lab in Portland, Oregon received four separate submissions of chocolate candies containing ground psilocybin mushrooms from the Portland Airport Interagency Narcotics Team (PAINT). The candies were molded into various shapes, including eggs, butterflies, bugs, Halloween-theme designs, and Reese's-type cups, and arrived wrapped in metallic foils of assorted colors (see Photos 1 - 2). In all four cases, the concoctions were being shipped via Federal Express to locations nationwide. In the largest case, the total net weight of the concoctions exceeded 11 kilograms. A later submission contained nearly 5 kilograms of finely ground mushroom material (see Photo 3), and also included the food processor used for grinding the mushrooms.
Under magnification, grey flakes were visible throughout the chocolate matrix on all exhibits. Samples were analyzed as follows: The concoctions were crushed, soaked in dilute sulfuric acid, and washed with chloroform (to remove some of the fatty components). The acidic layer was isolated, basified with aqueous NaOH to pH 10, and extracted with chloroform. Analysis of the extract by GC/MS indicated caffeine (from the chocolate) and confirmed psilocin. UV spectrophotometry on the final chloroform extract displayed a broad absorption in the region consistent with psilocin/psilocybin, but it was too similar to the UV from a blank chocolate extract to be considered conclusive. A second analysis was conducted by particle-picking specks of the mushroom material from the concoctions (see Photo 4), adding fresh Weber's color test reagent to them, and noting a color change from red to blue upon addition of a drop of concentrated HCl (positive for psilocin). Quantitation was not performed on any of the exhibits.
[Editor's Notes: According to the submitter, the relative percentage of mushrooms varied significantly between seizures; this indicates poor "quality control" and the potential for overdosing. Additionally, the submitter indicated that a subsequent (fifth) case was seized from a UPS package; this confirms that any parcel delivery service may be utilized for shipment. The latter case was handled by the Portland Police Department (no further information).]
IN SOUTH KINGSTOWN, RHODE ISLAND
The Drug Chemistry Section of the Rhode Island State Forensic Laboratory (Providence, Rhode Island) recently received a submission of two pieces of chocolate "candy" reported to contain psilocin (See Photos 5 and 6). The exhibits were seized in South Kingstown by the South Kingstown Police Department from an individual who was trying to sell them to students at a local public school. The chocolates weighed 16 grams each, and were individually wrapped in colored foil (see upper right quadrant of Photo 5). After cutting the pieces in half, visual inspection confirmed that small pieces of (presumed) mushroom pieces were mixed into the chocolate (see Photo 6). The mixtures were otherwise homogenous, suggesting that the mushroom pieces had been mixed with hot, liquified chocolate, and the resulting concoction allowed to harden in some type of mold (possibly an ice cube tray). Analysis of a 6% acetic acid/chloroform extract by GC/MS and UV confirmed psilocin (quantitation was not performed). This is the first time the laboratory has received a submission of this type.
IN RICHMOND, VIRGINIA
The DEA Mid-Atlantic Laboratory (Largo, Maryland) recently received an unusual exhibit consisting of one 14-section plastic ice cube tray with each compartment containing a cube of hardened mixture of chocolate and plant material, suspected containing psilocybin mushrooms (see Photo 7). The exhibit (total net mass 354.2 grams) was seized from a residence in Richmond, Virginia by agents from the DEA Richmond District Office, and was ancillary to an MDMA seizure. Analysis by GC/MS confirmed psilocin (quantitation was not performed). The exhibit was unusual in that the relative percentage of mushroom material to chocolate was quite high, varying between 10 and 20 percent by volume, and the mushrooms were also "sandwiched" between two layers of chocolate, not evenly distributed. In addition, the chocolate was a much lighter color than "normal" chocolate (see Photo); it was unclear whether this was due to the method of preparation, or if a lighter colored variety of chocolate was used. This was the first submission of a chocolate/psilocybin mushroom concoction to the Mid-Atlantic Laboratory.
[Editor's Notes: According to the Case Agent, the perpetrators in this case were making the concoction themselves, not receiving it from an outside source. The mushrooms were allegedly provided by a relative in New England.]
IN VAIL, COLORADO
From the April 29, 2003 issue of the Narcotics Digest Weekly
(Reprinted with Permission)
Colorado: The Vail Police Department reports that local independent dealers increasingly are distributing chocolate-coated psilocybin mushrooms wrapped in multicolored foil--a practice that was first reported in the Vail area approximately 18 to 24 months ago. The chocolate-coated psilocybin mushrooms typically are distributed at area concerts and private parties for $10 per 1-inch cube. Police officials believe that distributors are supplied by psilocybin mushroom cultivators in Oregon and Washington who transport the drug via package delivery services.
NDIC Comment: Coating psilocybin mushrooms in chocolate provides traffickers with an effective method of concealment and enables abusers to ingest the drug in public settings. Law enforcement reporting indicates that chocolate-coated psilocybin mushroom distribution has recently increased in several areas of the United States, including Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Moreover, law enforcement reporting indicates that Portland, Oregon, is one of the primary source areas for chocolate-coated psilocybin mushrooms. From September 2002 to April 2003, law enforcement authorities with the Portland Police Bureau, DEA, and the Portland Airport Interagency Narcotics Team (PAINT) seized over 250 pounds of chocolate-coated psilocybin mushrooms in nine incidents. The psilocybin mushrooms were being transported from Oregon to markets throughout the United States via package delivery services.
PSILOCIN/TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL MIXTURE IN VISTA, CALIFORNIA
The DEA Southwest Laboratory (San Diego, California) recently received an unusual sample consisting of a ziploc bag containing a brown/gray substance suspected to be psilocin, net mass 11.5 grams (photo not available). The exhibit was seized by DEA personnel in Vista, California. After extraction from a sodium bicarbonate triturate into ether, however, analysis by GC/MS indicated not just psilocin but rather a mixture of psilocin and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol, and cannabidiol. Further investigation using a microscope (under 10x magnification) determined that no marijuana was present; however, the microscopic examination revealed that vermiculite was mixed into the sample. Vermiculite is an absorptive substance used as a packing material and also as a support media for growing plants. It is speculated that the vermiculite present in the sample had been previously used in a marijuana grow operation, and thereby absorbed the cannabinoids that were identified in the extract. Of note, the other psilocin samples submitted in this case contained no vermiculite or cannabinoids.
CHOCOLATE/PSILOCYBIN "LOLLIPOP" IN TAMPA, FLORIDA
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement Tampa Crime Laboratory (Tampa, Florida) recently received an unusual submission of a chocolate lollipop from the Tampa Police Department. The evidence was recovered at a Grateful Dead Concert in Tampa, and was submitted as a suspected chocolate/psilocybin mushroom concoction. The lollipop was cellophane wrapped, about 6 x 4 centimeters in size (candy only), weighed 27.4 grams (including the stick), and looked and smelled like chocolate candy (see Photo 2). However, pieces of fibrous material (presumed ground psilocybin mushroom) were visible throughout the chocolate when the lollipop was broken (see Photo 3). Acid/base workup followed by analysis of an extract by GC and GC/MS confirmed psilocin. Extraction of a separate sample of the exhibit with methanol, followed by preparatory TLC, followed by standard TLC, confirmed psilocin (quantitation not performed). Of note, there was no indication of psilocybin in the sample. This was the first encounter with a chocolate/psilocybin (psilocin) concoction by the Laboratory. [Editor's Note: Numerous additional examples of chocolate/psilocybin mushroom concoctions were reported in the May, June, and August 2003 issues of Microgram Bulletin.]
CAPSULES CONTAINING POWDERED PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS
IN COUNCIL GROVE, KANSAS
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation Laboratory in Topeka recently received a submission of seven clear capsules containing a light brown powder (total net mass not reported) from the Council Grove Police Department (Council Grove is located about 50 miles southwest of Topeka). The capsules (see Photo 10) were seized (along with several ounces of marijuana) subsequent to a DUI/vehicle stop. The defendant indicated that the capsules were "mushroom pills". Analysis by TLC indicated psilocin and psilocybin, and analysis by GC/MS confirmed psilocin (quantitation not performed). This was the Laboratory's first encounter with this type of exhibit; however, a similar exhibit was seen by the KBI Great Bend Laboratory in 2002.
40 YEAR OLD PSILOCYBIN TABLETS IN MENDOCINO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
The State of California, Bureau of Forensic Services Laboratory (Eureka, California) recently received an interesting polydrug submission from Mendocino County (about 110 miles north of San Francisco), including cocaine powder (1.08 grams), dimethyltryptamine (DMT, compressed powder, 0.07 grams), an MDA capsule (0.09 grams), an MDMA capsule (0.23 grams), methamphetamine (0.49 grams), methaqualone tablets (two standard Lemmon 714 logo tablets), psilocybin mushrooms (36.01 grams), and psilocybin tablets (six, single scored, in very fragile condition). The exhibits were seized by the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (circumstances not reported); analysis was done with a variety of color tests and GC/MS. The submission had a number of unusual aspects - the DMT powder was highly compressed, had a strong mothball odor (not further identified), and had the appearance of amber (see Photo 5), the MDA and MDMA were both present in clear gelatin capsules, methaqualone tablets hadn't been seen by the laboratory in years, and the psilocybin tablets were in what appeared to be the original packaging (glass bottle with metal screw on lid, labelled: "Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, 50 tablets, Psilocybin, each tablet contains 10 mg, Research Material") (see Photo 6). According to the Drug Identification Bible, 2002, these tablets were manufactured between 1958 and 1965. GC/MS analysis of the psilocybin tablets showed minute traces of psilocin, with the major peaks being the tablet binders. None of the exhibits were quantitated. This was the laboratory's first ever encounter with psilocybin tablets.
PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOM CHOCOLATES
IN CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
The Santa Clara County Crime Laboratory (San Jose, California) recently received a polydrug submission which included its first exhibits of chocolate/psilocybin mushroom "candies". The seizures were made by the Mountain View Police Department at a rock concert. The five chocolates were star-shaped, wrapped in colored foil (four in silver, one in gold), and weighed between 12 and 15 grams each (see Photo 1). Pieces of mushrooms were visible throughout the chocolates (see Photo 2). Soaking one full gram of the concoction in 0.2N H2SO4, multiply washing with methylene chloride, basifying the solution, and extraction into n-butyl chloride gave a clean psilocin peak by GC/MS. No quantitation was performed. This case also included a small amount of mushroom stems (by themselves), which also analyzed positive for psilocin (not quantitated). Finally, two ziploc bags containing an unknown white powder (suspected Ecstasy) were submitted (total net mass 1.89 grams). Analysis by color testing and FTIR confirmed 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, not quantitated). The submission of MDMA in powdered form (rather than as tablets) has not occurred in Santa Clara County for several years.
[Editor's Notes: Previous seizures of psilocybin mushroom chocolates were detailed in the May and June 2003 issues of Microgram Bulletin. Again, all subscribers are reminded that the DEA Dangerous Drugs Strategic Intelligence Unit (NTSG) and the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) remain interested in this issue. Subscribers encountering these concoctions are asked to forward details to NTSG by FAX to 202/307-7916, Attn: J. Hines; and to NDIC by email to <email@example.com>.]
VERY LARGE PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS, PEYOTE CACTI, AND MARIJUANA
GROW OPERATION IN GUILDERLAND AND SCOTIA, NEW YORK
The New York State Police Forensic Investigation Center (Albany, New York) recently received a large polydrug submission consisting of 645 large jars containing growing psilocybin mushroom cultures (see Photo 1), 12 pots with growing peyote cacti, 45 growing marijuana plants, and over 10 pounds of dried psilocybin mushrooms. Growing media, rye grain, hay, mushroom spores, scales, glassware, thermometer, drying racks, firearms, and fireworks were also recovered. The evidence was seized by the Albany County Sheriff's Department from two separate residences in Guilderland and Scotia (suburbs of Albany), that were set up as large-scale indoor grow operations. The spores were purchased from an Internet source [Details not provided in accordance with Bulletin policy]. Analysis of the mushrooms by TLC and GC/MS confirmed psilocybin. Analysis of the peyote cacti by GC/MS confirmed mescaline. The marijuana was not analyzed. None of the exhibits were quantitated.
- INTELLIGENCE BRIEF-
MAIL-ORDER PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOM SPORES IN GREAT FALLS, MONTANA
The DEA Western Laboratory (San Francisco, California) recently received a submission of three standard design, plastic, 12 milliliter syringes containing a clear liquid with very small black specks suspended in the solution, suspected to be aqueous suspensions of psilocybin mushroom spores. The exhibits were seized by the Postal Inspector in Great Falls, Montana. Each syringe had a piece of colored tape wrapped around it; one red, one white, and one blue. Each tape had a different alphanumeric code written on it, the meaning of which was not intuitively obvious. For prosecution purposes (attempt to manufacture psilocybin and/or psilocin, controlled substances), it was necessary to show both that the spores were viable (would grow mushrooms), and that the mushrooms grown from the spores contained psilocybin and/or psilocin.
Visual examination of a drop of the liquid at 750x magnification revealed thousands of brownish colored, semi-transparent, oval shaped spores. Each solution was used to inoculate four different growth media: Potato, dextrose, yeast agar (PDY), dog food agar (DFA), malt extract agar (MEA), and brown rice powder and vermiculite. The basic procedures followed those provided in: Gross ST. Detecting psychoactive drugs in the developmental stages of mushrooms. Journal of Forensic Sciences 2000;45(3):527. [Further details not provided in accordance with Bulletin policy.] Mycelium growth was obtained with two of the syringes; analysis of samples of the mycelium by GC/MS and GC/IRD confirmed psilocin (see: Casale JF. An aqueous-organic extraction method for the isolation and identification of psilocin from hallucinogenic mushrooms. Journal of Forensic Sciences 1985;30(1):247). Transfer of the mycelium to a grow chamber resulted in mushroom growth (see Photo 5), and analysis of the dried mushrooms confirmed psilocin. This was the first submission of this type to the Western Laboratory.