Law enforcement officers from different Broward agencies and local school officials came together in Sunrise Wednesday for a symposium to discuss the dangers with synthetic drugs.
The Dangerous and Deadly Imitation Drug Symposium, or DIED, was a chance for educators and officers to get the drugs out of local stores.
"Put that together, with an acronym we have, D-I-E-D, died, which is what we are seeing in the effects of some of these new substances," Dr. Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at Nova State University, said.
Substances like herbal incense, and one type recently in the news quite a bit, bath salts, of which there are 92 variations, were being discussed Wednesday. Anybody, including kids, can get these products at just about any store, an increasingly serious problem, according to Hall.
"As some drugs are banned and removed from the market others are coming in to take their place that are even responsible for more bizarre effects," Hall said.
Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, whose agency hosted the event, said Colombian drug cartels and cocaine cowboys are almost a thing of the past. Guys in lab coats in China are the new drug pushers, with attractive packaging and word of mouth playing a huge role in popularity.
"We don't even know where it comes from," Lamberti said. "Yet because kids buy it in the convenience store they think it's safe. Just because you buy it in a convenience store it's still harmful."
He said law enforcement is catching up to the manufacturers of the drugs.
"It's marketed to kids by the names, Spice, K-2, very attractive names," he said. "The chemical compounds keep changing and that's why it's so hard. We're one step behind but we're catching up now."