A powerful anesthetic that often causes dark and violent hallucinations is not terribly common, but police expect to see more of it during the warmer months.
PCP, or phencyclidine, initially was sold as an anesthetic, but no longer has accepted medical value, said Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control spokesman Mark Woodward.
“It’s never gone away. It just doesn’t get the type of attention of other drugs,” Woodward said.
“This year, so far, I can only remember two or three cases,” Oklahoma City police Capt. Dexter Nelson said.
“It seems to be one of those drugs that we see more prevalently in the summer months,” he said.
PCP is most commonly consumed today by dipping marijuana or tobacco cigarettes in the liquid form of the drug and then smoking them, Woodward said.
“In a powder form, it was really popular in the ’70s as ‘angel dust,’” he said. The liquid form is commonly called “wet” or “whack.”
Oklahoma City police are currently investigating how a large amount of PCP made it into the city.
Police study influx
On Valentine’s Day, gang enforcement officers recovered an unspecified quantity of the drug during a traffic stop in northwest Oklahoma City.
Police think the PCP came from out of state, but declined to release further details until the investigation into the incident is complete.
A Del City police detective recently filed a search warrant for the blood of Lochinvar Caldwell. The 56-year-old man reportedly shot his 15-year-old grandson once in the head on March 21 because he was “possessed by the devil,” court records show.
Various amounts of marijuana were found in Caldwell’s home, and he was “naked, profusely sweating, combative” when police found him, according to the search warrant.
Caldwell exhibited “schizophrenic-like symptomatology such as flattened affect, dissociative thoughts, depersonalization and catatonic states at time of arrest. These are signs I associate with someone possibly under the influence of phencyclidine,” the warrant states.
The blood test results have not been released.
Stories about the drug are the stuff of nightmares.
“It gives you kind of an adrenaline rush. It numbs the pain receptors. You hear all these crazy stories because they don’t feel pain,” Woodward said.
“They don’t feel restraints. They don’t feel the steel of handcuffs cutting their wrists. They won’t feel bullets unless they hit a major organ,” he said.
“There have been stories of people who have been able to snap handcuffs and leather restraints while they’re on it,” Woodward said.
“Unlike LSD, where they tend to be hallucinations of colors and rainbows, these tend to be very dark, like people are chasing them,” Woodward said.
“It elevates the body temperature really badly, makes people hot. They look for water sources to try to cool themselves off. They’ll jump off a bridge into a puddle,” Oklahoma City police Capt. Dexter Nelson said.
Users also tend to be very aggressive while under the influence of the drug.
“Usually you end up having to fight the person because they can’t be still. They’ll be agitated,” Nelson said.
“The more you fight them, it tends to be the more they fight back,” Woodward said.
And contact with the noxious substance itself often causes problems for law officers.
“You know it when you’re around it because just the smell of it will give you an intense headache,” Nelson said.
“I know we’ve had some officers who have gotten it on them and gone to the hospital and been admitted for observation.”
And the drug is thought to cause fertility issues in women, Nelson said.
Woodward said the drug is not easy to make, which is part of the reason it’s uncommon, but that users have been able to purchase quantities of PCP on the internet.
“Thanks to the internet, there’s actually underground websites where you can buy it,” Woodward said.
“They call it a high, but I don’t know if I would. There’s nothing pleasant about it,” Nelson said.
“It’s one of the nastiest ones out there.”