06/26/2007

Calif. police bust suspects selling flavored cocaine

By Bill Lindelof
McClatchy Newspapers
Related: Meth makers target first-time users with `Strawberry Quick'

SACRAMENTO, Calif. In the beverage marketplace, there's flavored water and flavored vodka. Now, in the illicit world of drug-dealing, there is a new product: flavored cocaine.

Narcotic agents in Yolo County, say they have arrested six people after confiscating 3 pounds of strawberry- and coconut- flavored cocaine.

In its unflavored form, cocaine is a powerful addictive stimulant, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Adding a flavor is seen by Yolo Narcotic Enforcement Team Cmdr. Roy Giorgi as "just another marketing tool."

When the flavored cocaine is inhaled through the nostrils, users say, the flavor can be tasted and smelled. "They said regular cocaine gives a medicine taste in the back of the throat when snorted," Giorgi said. "With the flavored, you get a strawberry taste."

The narcotic enforcement team said it confiscated about 3 pounds of strawberry-flavored and several ounces of coconut-flavored cocaine.

Flavored cocaine costs 40 percent more than regular cocaine. It's part of a flavoring trend.

Giorgi said some Ecstasy tablets are flavored, and flavored methamphetamine is called "Strawberry Quick." Cocaine also comes in vanilla, banana and chocolate.

Giorgi said only a handful of seizures of flavored cocaine have been reported nationally, but he expects more to come.

A drug investigation that began in February led to the raid. At that time, YONET agents began looking into a group it believed was selling flavored cocaine in Yolo, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties.

Agents said that customers could purchase strawberry- and coconut- flavored cocaine from dealers in Stockton.

With the help of an undercover agent, drug buys were made in West Sacramento and Stockton from Antonio Macias, 42, and Miguel Ochoa, 25, both of Stockton, YONET alleges.

The buys allegedly included a quarter-pound of crystal methamphetamine for $3,200, 2 ounces of strawberry-flavored cocaine for $1,800 and 6 ounces of strawberry and 3 ounces of coconut cocaine for $6,500, YONET said.

On May 24, YONET said another buy was set up for strawberry cocaine from Macias and Ochoa in a West Sacramento supermarket parking lot. A kilogram of cocaine was purchased, agents allege, and the two men were arrested without incident.

Later, agents searched two homes in Stockton and recovered more drugs and a handgun, they said. Four people were arrested at one of the homes.

Those arrested in Stockton were identified as: Francisco Prado, 30, and Emma Prado, 29, both of Stockton; Miguel Sanchez, 27, of Madera; and Arnulfo Sanchez-Revuelta, 39, of Turlock. All four are accused of possession of cocaine for sales, conspiracy and being armed in the commission of a felony, officials said.

Macias and Ochoa are accused of sales of cocaine, methamphetamine, and conspiracy. All six suspects were booked into the Yolo County jail.

Copyright 2007 Contra Costa Newspapers

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