WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office's Narcotics Interdiction Unit pulled over a taxi cab early Wednesday morning only to find 100 pints of Promethazine with Codeine.
Promethazine is a prescription cough syrup. According to DEA resident in charge Terry Davis, it is a drug that has been in the Baton Rouge area for the past decade.
"Promethazine is highly, highly addictive and highly misused and abused all across the United States every year. It's one of those drugs that is readily available, not too hard to get and with just a little bit of tweaking, a lot of people misuse it in a profound way," said Davis.
Col. Richie Johnson with WBRSO said deputies pulled over the cab for improper lane usage on I-10 eastbound just before the LA 415 exit around 3 a.m. Wednesday. When they began questioning the passenger, 33-year-old Kerrick Teamer, of Pensacola, Florida, Col. Johnson said they became suspicious.
"There were portions of his story that did not add up, and the officers used K-9 dogs, which alerted them to the trunk of the cab," said Col. Johnson.
Col. Johnson said they found the 100 pints of Promethazine with Codeine in Teamer's suitcase inside the trunk.
"Codeine turns into other substances in the body once it's metabolized, and it causes an addiction that's hard to kick. As a result, as you take it more and more and more, you could suffer some really bad illnesses including death," said Davis.
Davis said the most common way people misuse the cough syrup is mixing it with a soft drink and adding sweetener such as a Jolly Rancher, which gives it a purple look. That is where it gets its street names from, such as purple drank, purple rain and even purple stuff.
Davis said Promethazine is sold at pharmacies around $8 to $15 a bottle, but on the street, on average, a bottle costs $800. Col. Johnson said in this case, with 100 bottles, that means "potentially $80,000 worth of cough syrup."
Teamer was arrested and charged with possession with the intent to distribute schedule two and possession of marijuana 5th offense. Col. Johnson added he is a wanted fugitive out of Florida.
Col. Johnson said the cab driver was not arrested because he was not aware of the drugs. Instead, he was hired for a four-hour drive.
"He picked up this guy in Lake Charles and was paid $400 to take him to Biloxi, Mississippi," said Col. Johnson.
The cab was based out of Lafayette.