'Purple drank' robberies leaving sour taste in the mouths of California pharmacy owners

Police believe thieves are after cough syrup that contains codeine.

By Evan Bleier

Sippin’ on some sizzurp…

At least five different pharmacies in the area of Stockon, Calif., have been robbed since May 20, and police believe the thieves are after cough syrup that contains codeine.


According to law enforcement authorities, the prescription-strength syrup can command a price of anywhere from $200 to $1,200 a pint on the street because it’s a necessary ingredient for a party beverage often referred to as “purple drank.”

"What we’re seeing in the hip-hop culture is people using what they call purple drink or purple drank," said Stockton police spokesman Officer Joe Silva. "And they are using them at hip-hop parties and they’ll ingest it by drinking it."

The drink has been popular in Texas and across the south since at least the 1990s, and in 2000, Three 6 Mafia's single "Sippin' on Some Syrup" popularized both the concoction and the term "purple drank" nationwide.

Purple drank is usually made by mixing the syrup with Sprite or Mountain Dew and then adding Jolly Rancher candies for flavor and coloring.

"(The thieves) are very bold and very brazen. They are ordering people on the ground,” Silva said. "Our investigators don't have any solvable leads, so right now they're hoping someone will have information regarding one or more of these robberies and burglaries to lead them to a good arrest.”


Although no one has been injured in the robberies, people who ingest purple drank are likely running the risk of bodily harm.

“After drinking it, the effects on the body include a swooning-type euphoria that makes a person feel woozy and provides some type of sedative effect,” Silva said. “The ultimate risk is that it's possible to take an overdose of codeine when abusing Purple Drank that could result in an overdose or even death."

Stockton police are instructing shop owners to be extra cautious.

"There is one case where they are actually pointing guns at people inside the pharmacy… and getting frustrated they can’t find what they are looking for," Silva said. "And in that type of situation, you don’t know what is going through their mind."

[KCRA] [Record of Stockton]

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