Last weekend, news broke that a Miami man likely high on a drug known as bath salts was involved in a violent, cannibalistic attack on a homeless person. So naturally, one of the Web's leading sellers of the quasi-legal drug began offering a 15 percent discount on the drugs after the news broke.
AM-HI-CO, one of the largest distributors of "synthetic" chemical drugs, posted on its Twitter and Facebook pages Tuesday that it was offering a discount on all bath salts. On the company's official forum, an administrator posted that there was a "special coupon code" on all "Stimulating Bath Salts Powder Blends."
On Twitter and Facebook, just days after the gruesome Miami attack, the company posted: "All our Bath Salts Powder Blends fans check out our Promo page! We have prepared a little surprise for all of you! Have a great day!"
E-mails and social media messages to AM-HI-CO were not immediately returned—the company uses a form letter on its website for all official correspondence and has no publicly listed phone number.
Miami police shot the attacker dead, while the victim was hospitalized in critical condition.
The company, which started in the United Kingdom and until recently had a shipping and storing center in Greenville, S.C., offers hundreds of blends of synthetic drugs, including "super pills," "poppers," "extremely strong incense blends" intended to simulate marijuana highs, sexual enhancers, and bath salts.
In recent months, the company has been plagued with legal issues—it recently lost the ability to accept credit cards, offering cash-on-delivery and wire payments as its only payment methods. On May 14, it announced on its official blog that it had lost the ability to ship from the United States and all future orders would be shipped from its European dispatch center.
"Due to various USA state regulations, we regret to inform you that we are currently relocating our USA dispatch unit," the company wrote. "This process is likely to take weeks to complete."
That hasn't stopped the company from selling bath salts, a drug similar to cocaine that can cause users to have psychotic episodes. The United States Senate recently passed a bill that would aim to ban many synthetic drugs nationwide. Similar measures have passed in the United Kingdom.
The company advertises more than 10 types of bath salts as "novelty collector's items," many of which are legal in most U.S. states. Some of the company's products are believed to contain chemicals not banned by the Senate bill.
With a wink and a nod, the company writes of one of its bath salts: "This product is not intended for human consumption … For health and safety reasons, avoid the use of alcohol, prescription medicines, intoxicants, or similar products when bathing using Ivory Wave or any other collector's item sold on this site. For external use only; do not insulfate (sic) or otherwise inhale Ivory Wave."
Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Update 5/30/12: This article has been updated to include the author's attempts to contact AM-HI-CO.