UNODC EWA: “Tuci”, “happy water”, “k-powdered milk” – is the illicit market for ketamine expanding?

VIENNA, Austria – December 2022: Ketamine is a psychoactive substance with stimulant and dissociate effects used in human and veterinary medicine as an anaesthetic. Recent information on its non-medical use points to a possible expansion driven by large-scale illicit manufacture and novel forms of presentation of drug products containing the substance, such “happy water”, “k-powdered milk” and “pink cocaine” or “tuci”. The current issue of the Global SMART Update explores how drug traffickers use existing street names of drugs as brands to introduce new ketamine-related products, potentially also to new user groups and geographic areas. In addition, this issue sheds light on significant changes in the non-medical use and illicit manufacture of ketamine and on new trafficking routes.

In recent years, a drug product marketed as “happy water” and “k-powdered milk” emerged in South-East Asia on the illicit market. These products often contained ketamine along with a range of different psychoactive substances in varying combinations and concentrations.

In Europe, Latin America and North America, several countries have reported drug products being sold under the street name “tuci”, “tucibi” or “pink cocaine”. Analysed samples of “tuci” often did not contain any 2C-B (4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine) as the street name suggests, but rather contained ketamine in combination with MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), methamphetamine, cocaine, opioids and/or new psychoactive substances (NPS).

In 2021, the Observatory on Drug Trafficking of Chile warned about the growth of “tuci” products which do not contain 2C-B and the risk this situation poses for the population, referring to similar developments in Colombia.[i] Indeed, 99 per cent of the 2,093 samples, submitted as substances from the “2C”-substance group to the Instituto de Salud Publica de Chile in 2022, contained ketamine while substances from the “2C”- substance group were only identified in 13 samples (see Figure 1).[ii]

In Europe, the emergence of “tuci” gained additional attention when Spanish authorities reported their largest seizure of “pink cocaine”[iii] amounting to 13.25 kg in August 2022 in relation to an operation involving groups with links to Colombia,[iv] indicating a possible connection between the emergence of “tuci” in Europe and drug trafficking organizations in Latin America.

Photos: Seizure carried out by Equipo Contra el Crimen Organizado – Unidad Central Operativa de la Guardia Civil – Spain in August 2022

Credit: Spain, Equipo Contra el Crimen Organizado de Baleares – Unidad Central Operativa de la Guardia Civil.

To find out more about the new ketamine-related products, changes in manufacturing and trafficking routes and the non-medical use of ketamine, please check out the latest Global SMART Update.

For more information please see:

UNODC, “”Tuci”, “happy water”, “k-powdered milk” – is the illicit market for ketamine expanding?”, Global SMART Update, Vol. 27 (December 2022).

UNODC, Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia – Latest Developments and Challenges (2022).

UNODC, World Drug Report 2022 (United Nations publication, Sales No. 22.XI.8).

UNODC, Illustrated Disposal guide for the disposal of chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of drugs (August 2020).


[i] Chile, Public Ministry, Observatorio del Narcotráfico – Informe 2021 (September 2021).  

[ii]See source and note under Figure 1.

[iii]Results of the chemical analysis of the seized material are not yet available. Official communication withEquipo Contra el Crimen Organizado de Baleares – Unidad Central Operativa de la Guardia Civil Spain (October 2022).

[iv] Spain, Guardia Civil, La Guardia Civil desarticula una importante organización en Ibiza e interviene la mayor cantidad de cocaína rosa aprehendida en España, press release, 30 August 2022.