The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has reached such widespread international coverage that one New Jersey drug dealer attempted to use it to market his heroin.
Forty-seven-year-old Barnabas “Hammer” Davis was arrested this week in the shore town of Toms River–a recently-developed hotbed of heroin use–possessing 633 packets of heroin and 40 grams of crack cocaine. The packets were labeled for distribution, and many, police say, had their own brand names. One of the most populous types of heroin in Davis’s inventory was a packet named “Ebola.”
Police have not revealed whether the Ebola brand heroin was especially different from the other packets, and, given his arrest, there will likely be no information to collect regarding whether labeling already deadly heroin as “Ebola” would have a positive effect on sales. The Asbury Park Press, a south Jersey newspaper, reports that Davis is currently facing charges of “possession of heroin, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possession of crack cocaine, and possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute,” and is being held under a $300,000 bail.
America’s fascination with the Ebola virus, particularly in the aftermath of it being brought to the United States by a Liberian man traveling to Dallas, Texas, has led to some unexpected market reactions. Profiting from awareness of Ebola is Giant Microbes, a company that specializes in designing scientifically correct plush toys of bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms. The company has seen a significant spike in sales of their Ebola model–particularly wholesale purchases by schools–and told Breitbart News earlier this month that they have regularly sold out.
Other companies have considered capitalizing on the attention given the Ebola outbreak by selling Ebola-themed Halloween costumes, given the current proximity of the holiday. Many have criticized this move as disrespectful to victims of the disease and serving little purpose–unlike the Ebola plush toy, whose anatomical correctness makes it a viable tool in the classroom. Multiple costume outlets are selling either “Ebola patient” costumes or outfits inspired by the personal protective gear health professionals require to interact with Ebola patients. In an interview, one man selling these products–Johnathon Weeks, the CEO of costume company BrandsOnSale–tells The Atlantic the product is not in bad taste because “it’s Halloween, it’s one day, if people are that serious about it, they don’t know what Halloween is about.” He added that his company is selling a significant number of “Joan Rivers wigs” this year, as well.