This article originally appeared on VICE Australia. I was at a Chinatown karaoke bar when I saw flashes through the square window on our door. Curious, I walked outside to find a Korean exchange student had overdosed on bad MD caps [MDMA]. An ambulance had been called.
As a person who has known their share of dealers, I know how bad MD caps come about. They come about because regardless of whether they're from cartel royalty or a lone wolf on a street corner, the drug game is all about maximizing profits and lowering costs. That's the foundation of the issue. The next is that drug dealers are all cut from a similar socioeconomic cloth. They're ruthless and violent, and if they see an opportunity to cut corners, they won't lose sleep if it puts a customer in hospital. And in this way, drug dealers are all the same, while their products keep changing.
After speaking to several users, I've found that most people feel safer buying their drugs from anonymous sources on the dark web where rating systems ensure quality and minimize danger. Given that, it seems street dealers are losing business, so I was curious to speak to a few and get their thoughts. Why is the state of street-level dealing still so desperate? And what's the worst cutting agent they've used? And why the fuck did they use that?
VICE: Tell us about some of the worst stuff you've mixed into your coke?
Yianni: I've rolled speed into a really fine powder before and put a tiny bit in an ounce bag. But believe it or not, when I stopped adding speed some people started to complain, so I replaced it with a couple of grams of caffeine per ounce and they came racing back. The coke rush didn't quite get them there. So I'd put it in for that extra kick up the ass. Once you started meddling in cutting agents, it just gets worse and worse. You get greedy because most of the time no one complains. In Australia, no one gives a shit what they put up their nose as long as you're reliable.
Have you ever used cutters you regret?
One time, someone told me they only buy bags that had that real gas smell because apparently that's how you determine if it's pure. So I rubbed the bag with a towel that had been slightly dipped in gas. The bag fucking stank. Another time these Romanians told me that they only wanted rocks, so I laid the coke out on a plate, sprayed it with hairspray, and mushed it together. It stuck together but fell apart pretty easily. I told them that's how you know it's pure, because the rocks break apart really flakey. Man, I was full of shit.
What made you stop cutting your product?
I stopped cutting my shit entirely because I noticed that the younger generation was getting hooked on meth and GHB. I kept thinking it was probably because cunts like me are always cutting their coke to the point where a lot of these kids think coke doesn't have a "real" effect. They're buying bags that are like 20 percent, so they go onto a cheaper alternative that fucks them up way more. I saw a girl overdose on GHB once. She was really young, and I thought she was dead.
Have dark web sites like Silk Road affected your business?
Yeah, they have. People are getting much better product online at a much better rate. I've lost a lot of my part-time customers, people who used to hit me up once a month. Now they'll just order a quarter or something between friends, it works out a lot cheaper and cleaner for them. I can't compete with that. So I rely on long-term people I've been dealing with and people willing to pay a bit extra for convenience. Otherwise, I make enough money from my day job.
Hey, Mark, can you tell us about the worst cutters you've used?
Well, the worst was after I was set up by my ex and former best friend. They told me they'd met a guy who wanted to buy an ounce, cash up. I was a bit nervous because I couldn't afford to outlay enough cash for an ounce. But they made a convincing case and sure enough, I never fucking saw them again. I had these guys on their way to pick up the ounce. They were regular customers, and if I didn't give them something, I'd be fucked.
I had no meth and no money. So I ran to the store and grabbed a few boxes of Epsom salts. When they came over, I gave them some weed out of my personal stash; then I weighed exactly an eight-ball of Epsom salts. I got about a thousand texts from them that night, apparently; the pipe went black as soon as they tried to light it up. The bastards kept trying to smoke it, and I was paranoid all night that one of them might die or ruin a lungs. But they're only Epsom salts. You smoke enough cigarettes, how much worse can some Epsom salt be? But they were really pissed off so I stayed with my aunt for a while. I went from being the victim of a robbery to the target of the fucking western suburbs. Not a good time.
So do you still use cutting agents?
Everyone that deals meth or speed uses cutters. In Australia, we use crystallized MSM to chop our meth. Usually, we turn an eight ball into an ounce, and that's where all our extra profit comes from. I've heard a lot worse, though. Some cutting agents even hospitalize people. A guy I know was coughing up spots of blood for about six months, but he kept smoking.
Has the dark web had any affect on your business?
Honestly, no one I know is buying meth off of those sites. Probably because half of us don't know how to work the fucking thing. Meth addicts aren't going to wait two weeks for their drugs they don't even like waiting an extra hour before they get an attitude with you. Most of the time they know the drug has been cut or reformed, but they don't care as long as they get their rush.
Hey, Tran, I had no idea you could even cut weed.
Yeah, when I was 17, the guys who taught me how to grow were adding different types of stuff to weigh down their weed. The more it weighs, the more they pay. We mainly used silicon, but I've heard of some people finding iron fillings and glass in their bud. I learned a few techniques from some guys I went to high school. Nobody ever complained, so I didn't think it would do too much harm.
What made you stop ruining your product?
I was making good money and didn't think it was fucking anyone up that bad. It wasn't until years later that I met some guys at a weed protest who taught me the proper way to farm cannabis. I jokingly told the guy I sprayed my shit to weigh it down, and his friend almost hit me. Apparently, the silicon in sprays can kill you when you smoke it. They really opened my eyes to all the fucked-up shit I was doing to the scene, and more important, to the people who trusted me enough to buy my weed.
Tell me why you started cutting your products.
It started with an MDMA shortage about five years ago. Selling was my main source of income, and I couldn't risk losing customers. So I started mixing small amounts of meth in with the MDMA. When they took it, most people were really happy, but the comedowns were always severe. One of my friends who was hooked on meth actually committed suicide. I stopped dealing after that.
To your knowledge, are people still cutting their MDMA with shitty alternatives?
Nowadays, they've got testing kits, and I hope more young people use them because they're worth it. Since they've been introduced, a lot of the guys I know pushing pills and caps haven't been cutting their product. Some of these guys really didn't give a fuck about what they put in their drugs, but nowadays, everyone's a lot more careful because they can get exposed and lose your business.
Tell me about the effect the Silk Road has had on the MDMA industry?
Next to the testing kits, it's had the biggest effect on the Australian MDMA market. Suppliers are even importing through online networks because they are getting a safer product. They can cut with health supplements and not feel guilty about it. The customers still get a really solid, clean high without the garbage backyard Aussie crap that comes with it. In Australia, we have to import MDMA, if we want quality pharmaceutical grade stuff. The cooks in backyard operations will never be able to compete with Israeli stuff, even if you gave them all the right chemicals and equipment.
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