Local 10 News gets inside look at new ‘nightclub narcotic’ sweeping South Florida’s party scene

MIAMI – Authorities are giving Local 10 News another inside look at a drug called “pink cocaine” and why it is the number one narcotic federal officers are busting on our international passenger air border.

Customs and Border Protection Watch Commander Bryan Picado oversees enforcement teams at Miami International Airport.

“We have special equipment to test whatever products they are bringing to see if it is what it is or if it is narcotics,” he said.

Federal officers are trained to intercept illegal drugs there.

“Out of all the different narcotics is there one drug that seems to be the most prolific right now?” Local 10 News reporter Christina Vazquez asked.

“So right now, for Miami, this is the party scene. The party drug right now that is very popular is called 2c,” Picado said.

2c, also known as pink cocaine, is a new designer drug that is even on the radar of the United Nations.

“There is a lot of music, especially in the reggaetón scene, that make reference to 2c because it is a very popular dance, club drug that is being utilized right now in the party scene of Miami,” said Picado.

But it turns out, this “new” nightclub party drug made its debut in the 1970s.

1970 was the year of the Controlled Substance Act, which was followed by a boom in designer drugs made to skirt regulations, explains Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, medical director of the Florida Poison Control Center.

“The cocaine part is really a misnomer, and the pink actually comes from food coloring. Sometimes they use, you know, Kool-Aid to give it a little flavor. It’s really just a marketing ploy,” Bernstein said.

The synthetic stimulant can pack a deadly punch with symptoms that include a racing heart rate, dilated pupils, sweaty, increased blood pressure, stroke, seizure, hyperthermia and increased temperature, according to Bernstein.

Ingredients used can vary from batch to batch.

“People can die. And the worst part about it is there’s really no quality control out on the street. So you don’t really know what you’re getting. I mean, they’re referring to this as cocaine and they’re making it pink because it makes it easier to market and easy to sell because it looks cool and it looks like it’s something new,” Bernstein said.

“But really, you have no idea what you’re getting and there are several varieties of substituted amphetamines that cause your temperature to go up, and really cause you to go into multi-organ failure,” he added.

Miami Police Assistant Chief Armando Aguilar told Local 10 News that his department has made multiple arrests after catching people with 2c.

“Our narcotics detectives have made in the past year, about seven arrests for 2c,” he said.

Aguilar said that while the drugs that continue to fuel street-level sales and violent crime are cocaine, crack and fentanyl, they are also keeping tabs on 2c.

“It is very concerning to law enforcement whenever there is a drug that is out there that is going to alter someone’s mental state,” Aguilar said.

“Are you going to be injured, possibly even raped, as a result of being under the influence of these drugs where you don’t know the quantities of what they are putting in?” he asked. “It really creates the conditions that are ripe for victimization.”

“My takeaway is, it’s not worth the risk. You’re playing Russian roulette,” said Bernstein.

For any poison questions or emergencies call 1-800-222-1222 or click here for more information.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."