WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA)-- A new synthetic drug given the street name of "Bath Salts" is inching closer to the Washington Metro area, and now authorities both locally and federally are racing to stop in its tracks.
Scott Masumoto, is the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA, Washington Field Office. According to Masumoto the problem with "Bath Salts" is they are readily available and the widespread popularity is gaining in speed. Specifically, the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia is seeing a large boom in cases of "Bath Salts" abuse.
Masumoto said, "I can say in western Virginia, and parts of West Virginia, there is a lot of so-called bath salts abuse."
He described "Bath Salts" as a synthetic drug manufactured overseas that provides a hallucinogenic effect causing people to become violent.
He said, "This has nothing to do with like Epsom salts that you would put in your bath...these are pharmacological active salts."
The most famous case of an attack that may have been caused by the use of this drug is the case of a man turned into a cannibalistic zombie who ate the face of a homeless man in Miami.
It is suspected in that case that the attacker who was later shot to death by police was on a high induced by "Bath Salts."
Because so little is known about this drug right now even emergency rooms doctors are having a tough time identifying when someone is under the effects of the drug.
Dr. Cathleen Clancy of the National Capital Poison Center says the effects are erratic.
She said , "When I'm in the emergency department, what I'll do is I'll see someone who is very, very agitated. They don't come with a label." She added, "A lot of times you don't really know what those people got into...truth be told, those people don't know what they got into."
The American Association for Poison Control Centers said nationwide in 2010, 304 cases of "Bath Salts"-induced highs were treated. In 2011, it skyrocketed to 6,138. This year as of May 31, 1,302 cases were recorded.