A local medical examiner in Florida announced Wednesday there were no signs of the synthetic street drug "bath salts" in the body of Rudy Eugene, the 31-year-old Miami resident who chewed off most of a homeless man's face in a gruesome attack last month.
"The [Miami-Dade County Medical] department's toxicology laboratory has identified the active components of marijuana," a medical examiner said Wednesday. "The laboratory has tested for but not detected any other street drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs, or any adulterants found in street drugs."
The examiner also said an outside laboratory contracted by the county confirmed the absence of bath salts, synthetic marijuana and LSD in Eugene's system.
The findings were a surprise to police, physicians and the public, who were shocked and appalled by the May 26 attack. Eugene, previously though to be high on the drug, beat homeless man Ronald Poppo, 65, after finding him asleep on a North Miami freeway ramp.
Eugene then proceeded to strip himself and Poppo naked and chew off 75 percent other man's face. When police responded to 911 calls reporting the attack, which was still in progress, Eugene growled at law enforcement agents before resuming. Eugene was shot and killed by police when he failed to stop.
Eugene's family, who have confirmed they will not press charges against the police for the killing, describe him as a religious man and a "good kid." Poppo, who remains alive in hospital, continues to undergo surgery to regain use of his one remaining eye.
Miami police soon issued a warning about the drug after similar incidences of people exhibiting violent behavior while on the drug increased in Florida and across the country. Just days after the Eugene incident, a man on the drug threatened to eat two officers responding to the scene.
The synthetic drug, likened to "PCP on crack" is traditionally made out of a cocktail of three drugs - Mephedrone, 3, 4, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and Methylone. They can be injected, snorted, inhaled or swallowed and users oftentimes report sever paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis, violence and a lack of physical pain.
Bath salt abuse in the U.S. has spiked in the last few years, with emergency rooms reporting a 20-fold increase of cases involving the drug. The Association of Poison Control Centers reported bath salt abuse cases in American emergency rooms numbered about 300 in 2010 but then skyrocketed to over 6,100 in 2011.
The drugs have not been approved by the FDA for human consumption and many states, such as Indiana, have already instituted bans on the chemicals. But producers continue to secretly manufacture and sell these products.
Multiple attempts have been made on the state and federal level to outlaw the drug. Twelve states have instituted bans and the U.S. House and Senate passed H. R. 1254 to amend the Controlled Substances Act to place synthetic drugs in Schedule I.
The bill, expected to be signed by President Barack Obama soon, will enforce a minimum 20 year prison sentence against first offenders who sell or manufacture the drug and 30 years for a second offense.
by RTT Staff Writer
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