It may not rise to the level of a Galileo or Marco Polo discovery, but a recent Customs and Border Protection discovery is just as exciting, while also raising significant concern.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers from Washington Dulles International Airport and from Baltimore seized on February 11 what CBP scientists declared as the agency’s first encounter of two synthetic cannabinoid compounds – BZO-4en-POXIZID, also known as 4en-pentyl MDA-19, and ADB-FUBIATA, also known as AD-18. CBP officers in other Ports have encountered analogous MDA-19 compounds; however, this is a first discovery of the 4en-pentyl variant.
CBP officers initially inspected two parcels on November 14, 2021, at an express delivery distribution center in Maryland. The parcels, which were manifested as “curtain wall banners” and “tennis shoes,” had just arrived from China and were destined to addresses in Washington, D.C., and Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Officers opened one parcel and discovered one sealed bag of a white powdery substance concealed inside black plastic makeup packaging, and then discovered three additional sealed bags of yellow and white powdery substances concealed inside a similar black plastic makeup package.
Two sample-sized baggies, which weighed less than three grams each, contained substances that were identified as “bath salts,” a street name for synthetic cathinone. However, CBP officers were unable to identify the powdery substances in the two larger zip lock bags, which each weighed one kilogram.
Officers detained the parcels and delivered samples of the two unknown substances to CBP’s Laboratories and Scientific Services (LSS) forensic scientists, who analyzed the substances to determine their identity.
On January 4, CBP forensic scientists reported to CBP officers at Dulles that they identified the compounds as new CBP discoveries of ADB-FUBIATA and BZO-4en-POXIZID. Scientists conducted additional research on both compounds and on February 11 confirmed that both substances are emerging synthetic cannabinoid analogues.
Based upon these lab reports, CBP officers seized the synthetic cannabinoids on February 11. Meanwhile, CBP’s forensic scientists are taking steps to update the agency’s library of known molecular compounds to include BZO-4en-POXIZID and ADB-FUBIATA.
“The discovery of these two emerging synthetic cannabinoids highlights the collaboration between Customs and Border Protection’s frontline officers and forensic scientists to identify and intercept products that may be potentially harmful to American consumers,” said Daniel Escobedo, CBP’s Area Port Director for the Area Port of Washington, D.C. “Our officers and scientists can take pride in knowing that their discovery may help save lives.”
“Customs and Border Protection is America’s first line of defense in the ever-changing, constantly evolving, synthetic drug market and the addition of these two discoveries to our spectral libraries will allow our frontline officers to rapidly identify these potential threats to our nation’s citizens,” said Marc Calixte, CBP’s Area port Director for the Area Port of Baltimore.
The bath salts and synthetic cannabinoids have been destroyed.
Laboratories and Scientific Services is CBP’s forensic and scientific arm. LSS employs chemists, physical scientists, textile analysts, health physicists, general engineers and project managers who provide forensic and scientific testing in the area of narcotics and trade enforcement, weapons of mass destruction detection and interdiction, and intellectual property rights enforcement.