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Pa. man arrested in ‘catnip cocktail’ bust at NJ nutrition store

FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP, NJ (Essex County) – A Pennsylvania man is facing drug charges after police allegedly found “catnip cocktail” and other drugs in a Fairfield Township nutrition store, according to Fairfield Township Police Chief Anthony G. Manna.

John Sirico, 48, of Tafton was charged with three counts of third-degree possession of a scheduled I drug, two counts of second-degree possession with the intent to distribute, one count of third-degree possession with the intent to distribute, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, one count of possession of hypodermic syringes and seven counts of fourth-degree possession of high capacity magazines.

Fairfield Police executed a search warrant on Thursday at the Nutrition Zone, located at 397 Route 46 West, looking for catnip cocktail, a solution that is commonly used to sedate felines, Manna said.

Detectives recovered sixty one bottles of Catnip Cocktail, twenty nine bottles of Human Growth Hormone (HGH), Twenty bottles of a mixing agent, thirteen bottles of Prohormones and seven high capacity handgun and rifle magazines, Manna said.

While not listed as a federal scheduled controlled dangerous substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the solution is a scheduled drug in the State of New Jersey. Catnip Cocktail is not for human consumption but if ingested into the human body, it metabolizes and becomes substantially similar to Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid, commonly known as GHB, Manna said.

The improper use of catnip cocktail first came to the attention of Fairfield authorities in July 2018 when officers were called to investigate an individual who was dancing, yelling and generally acting abnormally in front of a hair salon in the same strip mall where the Nutrition Zone is located, Manna said.

When officers found the individual involved, he was allegedly having a variety of mood swings to including being very friendly one moment, then being confused and angry the next. Six bottles of catnip cocktail were found in his possession along with a receipt indicating they were purchased at the Nutrition Zone, Manna said.

The next dealing officers had with catnip cocktail occurred on November 1, 2018 when a citizen caller alerted police to an erratic driver travelling west on Route 46. When officers stopped this vehicle, the driver allegedly was acting irrationally, was extremely confused and unaware of his surroundings. Found in his vehicle were several bottles of Catnip Cocktail. The suspect was eventually charged with driving under the influence and had to be hospitalized, Manna said.

The most recent incident took place on Feb. 26, when officers were called outside of Retro Fitness, located on Route 46 East, for an unresponsive male. The officers deployed Narcan and the individual came around and was sent to the hospital. A bottle of catnip cocktail was found in his possession, Manna said.

Authorities alleged that Sirico was well aware that he should not be selling Catnip Cocktail based upon the fact that it was hidden from customers view and that there was no advertisement that would make customers aware that the business even sold the product, Manna said

“It seems quite suspicious to me that an individual looking for something to sedate a cat with would come to a Nutrition Zone and not a veterinarian, to purchase a product that wasn’t even advertised or on display for the public to see. This is a very dangerous product and it appears its improper use is on the rise. In executing today’s search warrant, the Fairfield Police Department has sent a clear message that we will do whatever we can to assure that Catnip Cocktail does not become the next drug fad,” Manna said.

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By: Jay Edwards Follow on Twitter | Like on Facebook