Vice Squad
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Amphetamine bust at Moscow State

Recently, the Russian anti-drug agency has discovered (the source is in Russian) an underground amphetamine lab and a small network of dealers who distributed the stuff mostly at night clubs. That would not have been particularly newsworthy except that the drug was produced by a recent graduate with distinction of Moscow University’s Department of Chemistry. (How come they didn't seem to make the stuff there when I was a Moscow U student?) Both before and after graduation, the young scientist was working at the Department’s lab of petrochemical synthesis and apparently was making the stuff right there in the lab, using the chemicals that were officially purchased by the lab for research and educational purposes. The distribution was also done by students or recent grads of Moscow colleges. The investigators said that the high quality of the drug helped them solve the case although it took them six months to do that. According to the officials, the dealers advertised their product as “locally made by chemists with college diplomas” using modern chemical facilities and, therefore, the “purity” and “freshness” of the drug were guaranteed. (BTW, the officials confirmed that the quality was indeed top notch. I wonder whether they determined this by a little taste test or using some more sophisticated means.) As far as I know, this is a rather unconventional mechanism by which the illegal nature of the market may drive down the quality of the available product.

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