A deadly mix of prescription cough syrup and soft drinks called “sizzurp” or “drank” has stewed up trouble for 20 arrested in a San Diego County drug sting, authorities said.
A multi-agency crackdown called Operation Purple Haze targeted a ring of drug dealers in the South Bay and Southeastern neighborhoods, according to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
Since 2013, investigators have tracked suspects who forged and filled more than 50 stolen prescriptions to get promethazine with codeine cough syrup.
The medicine is a Schedule V controlled pharmaceutical drug used as a depressant. However when abused, it can lead to respiratory failure and death.
Some teens and young adults mix the drug with soda such as Mountain Dew and Sprite to create a purple drink called “sizzurp” or “drank,” among other names, according to Dumanis.
The dangerous, addictive cocktail is frequently referenced by popular rap and hip-hop artists like Lil Wayne, as NBC Los Angeles has reported.
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Dumanis said most of the illegal prescriptions were filled by people between the ages of 18 and 24.
“We hope that operations like this one will increase awareness that prescription drug abuse continues to rise at an alarming rate with devastating effects to our community,” she said.
The drug ring started dismantling in March 2013, when 16 suspects surrendered themselves to National City Police.
As of Tuesday, 18 of the 21 people tied to the scheme have pleaded guilty to related crimes like prescription fraud and burglary.
One of the suspects, Barwar Barwari, 19, was convicted of a February hit-and-run crash that killed pedestrian Cris Ringor Dano in National City. Barwari is expected to be sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for hit-and-run causing death and prescription fraud.
One last suspect, 23-year-old Tanesha Brown, is still at large, Dumanis said.