Twelve high school students drank grape juice spiked with a sedative or opioid last Wednesday at Crossroads Accelerated Academy on the 4300 block of Westminster Avenue. School officials say this is something they’ve never had to deal with before and expressed shock at the fact that so many teens would willingly consume a drug on school grounds.
Five minors were hospitalized, ranging in age from twelve to sixteen. Police locked the school down and brought the counterterrorism unit to aid the investigation.
What Is Wonk?
It’s not clear what wonk is made from. Tests are still being done on the substance. School and police officials say “wonk” is a new street opioid. However, they haven’t yet finished running tests on the substance.
Ketamine, an animal tranquilizer, is often sold as “wonk” on the street and in clubs. Ketamine is also called “wobble” or “Special K” when sold online. Ketamine causes its users to dissociate and hallucinate. It has no human use but can be used for surgery on large animals like horses. When people use the drug recreationally, they snort or inject it. The high can last several hours while a user remains unconscious and unable to respond to questions or commands. Special K has also been used as a date rape drug.
Wonk may be a new opioid; after all, “tranq dope,” a dangerous drug combining fentanyl with xylazine, an animal tranquilizer, also originated in Philadelphia.
The Dangers of Fentanyl in Street Drugs
Fentanyl could also be a culprit in the overdose that the teens experienced. The DEA says that about one in six drug seizures contains drugs tainted with fentanyl. Fentanyl is also the top drug involved in deadly overdoses. It has been found in cocaine, heroin, Molly, and even counterfeit Adderall pills. Yet many people are unaware of the dangers of fentanyl. It’s possible that ‘wonk’ could contain fentanyl, too.
Harm reduction can help people who use drugs prevent overdoses from accidental fentanyl injections. For example, carrying naloxone can help users reverse overdoses. In addition, some harm reduction efforts will supply people who use drugs with fentanyl testing strips so that they can make better decisions about their drug use.
New Drugs Continue to Be an Issue
We live in a fast-paced economy, so it’s not shocking that the underground economy can change as quickly as our normal one. During the pandemic, drug dealers pivoted their sales strategies to sell online. Many of them never looked back. The transience and relative anonymity drug dealers can achieve with apps makes getting caught harder. Wonk is just the newest in a series of drugs being sold online.
Many mobile payment options don’t seem to screen what businesses sell, essentially being permissive about illegal activity.
China is often the source of these newer drugs, ordered by cartel members and shipped to them in South America. Typically, this is where drugs are pressed into pills or sorted into bags, cross the border to the US, and are then distributed through the country.