Bizarro: The Surreal Saga of America’s Secret War on Synthetic Drugs and the Florida Kingpins It Captured (Hardcover)

Bizarro: The Surreal Saga of America’s Secret War on Synthetic Drugs and the Florida Kingpins It Captured By Jordan S. Rubin Cover Image
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(Cultural Studies)


Inside a drug war so screwy that people don’t know what’s illegal—until it’s too late.
Bizarro is a page-turning tale of the unprecedented prosecution of Burton Ritchie and Ben Galecki, the Florida-based founders of a sprawling “spice” (synthetic cannabinoid) operation. With this book, journalist and former New York City narcotics prosecutor Jordan S. Rubin exposes a Reagan-era law called the Analogue Act, which targets dealers selling drugs that are “substantially similar” to controlled substances—an unwieldy law that produces erratic results in court.
Rubin brings readers deep inside the synthetic war, exploring how Ritchie and Galecki landed in its crosshairs and why one of the DEA’s own chemists may have been their best chance at freedom, until he was arrested too. This stranger-than-fiction narrative is backed by thousands of pages of court records and exclusive interviews with defendants, lawyers, law enforcement, celebrities, and more. Bizarro reveals the world of underground chemists making drugs faster than the government can ban them, dealers making millions in a gray market, and a justice system run amok.

About the Author

Jordan S. Rubin is a journalist and a former prosecutor for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where he was assigned to the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor.

Praise For…

“Colorful and distressing. . . . A fascinating case study of America’s drug laws.”
— Publishers Weekly

“A fascinating and terrifying account of two businessmen who tried to achieve the American dream, dutifully testing their product against potential illegality but still getting snared by murky legal applications. Engrossing.”
— The Culture Buzz

Product Details
ISBN: 9780520387959
ISBN-10: 0520387953
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: April 18th, 2023
Pages: 278
Language: English