Oxi? These three letters refer to the new scourge of Brazil. A drug worse than any other, more destructive even than the crack. If a narcotic poison that makes its victims dependent on the first time they use it, and it kills three in ten in the first year of addiction.
Oxi is the diminutive of 'oxidado "rusty" in Portuguese. Like crack, oxi is a derivative of cocaine base, but contains twice as much, like him, he looks like a small pebble and yellow "smoke" in an air pipe, the user inhaling its fumes.
Only the consumption of these drugs cousins and even appearance can be distinguished: crack smoke is white, that of the oxi, grayer, one of ash leaves, the other an oily substance.
The crack is to cocaine dissolved in sodium bicarbonate, ether or ammonia. The oxi is the oxidized coke with lime virgin, and a petroleum-based kerosene, gasoline or diesel.
The oxi was detected for the first time in 2003 in the State of Acre , which borders Bolivia. It was then for the poor - especially young unemployed - and followers of the mystical ayahuasca, an Amazonian hallucinogenic brew.
Since the oxi spread to northern Brazil before this year, appeared in major southern cities, particularly Sao Paulo . The police seized almost every week. It is now used in all walks of life.
The "advantage" of the oxi is that it is very cheap: five times cheaper on average (2 reis, or 0.90 euro cent the stone) that crack. A Cracolândia, the neighborhood drug addicts - most of them homeless - in Sao Paulo, it is called simply "the stone 2 Reis" .
The solvents used in the manufacture of crack arrest are available. Concoct the narcotic requires handling in a small makeshift lab, even a kitchen. Nothing like the oxi, which can be prepared in a single pan, the bottom of the lower back yard.
The appearance of two almost identical drugs has long abused the police. In March, Sao Paulo, after seizing 60 kg of "stones", she discovers by chance that this oxi, not crack, by burning a few stones at a demonstration in front of young recruits .Drug addicts are mistaken, too, buying without knowing the oxi in traditional outlets crack.
Once lit their pipes, doubt no longer allowed. From the first puff, which acts on the brain in seconds, the "effect oxi" is overwhelming, and often immediate addiction. "I thought I swallowed a poison, I was afraid to die" , confided Pedro , 27, the weeklyEpoca .
Physical damage and mental arise quickly headache, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, anxiety, paranoia. "I heard voices, as if the devil spoke to me" , says Andrew, a patient in rehab. Dentists were the first to sound the alarm, discovering with horror necrosis invading the mouths of their young patients.
More than other drugs, the victims of the oxi are desperate to get them. Andrew has sold well until the last before agreeing to treatment. Helvetia Street, the heart of Cracolândia, is a place of permanent swap for hundreds of drug addicts, who negotiate just about anything in exchange "for two stones reis" : old shoes, used clothing, electrical appliances, or single tickets bus.
After three days maximum in a state of lack, the "oxicomane" became very aggressive. Augusto, 25, Irivan, 25, Jonas, 40 years - all of which can be cured today - tell the inevitable sinking of dependence: family disputes, job losses, theft, assault. And the worst: murders, suicides. "Eight out of ten homicides are drug-related" , says Wilson Martins , Governor of the State of Piaui, northeast Brazil. It's not for nothing called the oxi "drug of death" .
The state of Acre in the Amazon, was the first affected by the oxi. In the old quarters of the center of Rio Branco , the capital, the girls drugged prostitutes as young as 8 years, says a local researcher, Alvaro Augusto Andrade Mendes . Without drugs, children prepare a "tea" with the liquid alkaline batteries. In forests, Indian villages are not spared by the oxi and Merla, another derivative of the coke.
The police feared that eventually the oxi take the place of the crack. The organization of the traffic would be changed, complicating enforcement. Produced in an artisanal way, sold in small quantities, the new drug circulating outside the traditional sales channels.
In Rio Branco, small traders will look for the cocaine base at the border and make the oxi in abandoned houses or in the forest. To be effective, the police will be much more present on the ground. Otherwise, the swirls of gray oxi propagate more bondage and death.