EXCLUSIVE: DEA Opens Up About Current Bath Salt Situation in the Basin

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office in Midland tells NewsWest 9 that bath salts are no longer being spread around the Permian Basin like they have been in the past.

The buzz over these designer drugs is only now starting to die down.

"The bath salt subject has taken on a life of its own throughout the summer because of high profile cases throughout the country," DEA Agent, Dante Sorianello, said.

For example, there was the Florida man who devoured another man's face. For weeks, authorities suspected he was high on bath salts, although that theory was later ruled out. However, it was too late at that point to avoid the national hype.

The Permian Basin has been battling its own bath salt problem for some time. NewsWest 9 has even sat down with an abuser who was still bruised and battered to hear his powerful story about his violent and psychotic bath salt binge.

Agent Sorianello says, "The DEA has taken some aggressive efforts to combat the illegal sale of illegal bath salts. Through investigative work, we've driven [out] some of the illegal bath salt distribution that was overt and being sold through smoke shops and other places. We've driven that underground."

Bath salt distribution may be down in the Basin but that doesn't necessarily mean that usage is also down. Staff at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa says that these days they've seen just as many patients coming in secondary to bath salt use, as they did a few months ago.

Even though MCH hasn't seen any changes, the West Texas Regional Poison Control Center tells NewsWest 9 that the number of reported exposures in the Basin has gone down, although there weren't many reported ones to start with.

From January to April of 2012, there were four reported exposures in Ector County. From May to August of 2012, that number dropped to three reported exposures. From January to April of 2012, there were two reported exposures in Midland County. From May to August of 2012, that number dropped to just one reported exposure in Midland County.

The DEA office in Midland says there are currently no more major distributors in the Basin that their agents are actively investigating.