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This Is the DEA’s Internal Dictionary of Drug Slang

Besides standards like "weed" and "pot," I'm still unsure of how often drug slang is actually used in the wild. But I am excited to share with you the US government's treasure trove of drug slang.

If you spent any time in US elementary school in the ineffective DARE program (short for Drug Abuse Resistance Education), you were probably told to lay off "dope," "Mary Jane," and "reefer," among countless other pseudonyms for drugs. As a somewhat sheltered youth, I rarely had any idea what the DARE officers were talking about.

Besides standards like "weed" and "pot," I'm still unsure of how often drug slang is actually used in the wild. But I am excited to share with you the US government's treasure trove of drug slang, which may come in handy if you're a comedy writer looking to write dialogue for out-of-touch adults trying to connect with the youths. This is the official Drug Enforcement Agency's "dictionary" of drug slang terms, compiled between 1993 and October 2008, and published internally in May of 2009. Motherboard obtained the document, which has never been made publicly available in full on the internet until now, via a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA).

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The dictionary is part of "Operation Breakthrough," a DEA research project originally aimed at estimating the total amount of cocaine production in South America. The project is still ongoing and has expanded to "provide the U.S. Government with unique forensic data and strategic intelligence on the nature and magnitude of the evolving global threats posed by illicit crop cultivation and drug production," according to the Department of Justice's 2017 budget request.

In response to my FOIA, the DEA mailed me the following treasure trove of documents (scanned and uploaded below).

An introductory message from Anthony Placido, the DEA's Chief of Intelligence at the time, notes that the dictionary was compiled by DEA officials who interviewed cocaine and heroin cooks. The dictionary is organized in four separate ways: Alphabetically, by country, by drug, and by stage (abuse, cultivation, general, and processing).

"Cocaine and heroin cooks frequently use slang or specialized terms for different facets of drug processing," Placido wrote. "This dictionary defines many of the terms most commonly used by cooks in Latin America and Southwest [redacted]."

Thanks to the dictionary, I now know that an "aceituna" (an "olive") is an LSD user in Mexico, "chandu" is a Hindi-Bengali term for cooked opium, and a "nuai" is 700 grams of heroin in southeast Asia. If any of these terms don't sound right to you, or if it's missing any you think it should have, let us know.

DEA File by MotherboardTV on Scribd