On 29 December 2018, the Police Department of Harahan, Louisiana, posted a warning on Facebook advising local residents that if they had “recently purchased meth in any area of Louisiana,” they should bring it to their local police department to ensure it was not “contaminated with the Zika virus”:
***WARNING: *** If you have recently purchased meth in any area of Louisiana it may be contaminated with the Zika Virus. Please bring all of it to your local Police Department and they will test it for free. If you’re not comfortable coming to us, an officer will be glad to come to you and test your Meth in the privacy of your home. Please spread the word! We’re available 24/7/365. Be Safe! ~Ofc Moody
In fact, no meth in Louisiana — or anywhere else — is believed to be contaminated with the Zika virus (which is typically transmitted through mosquito bites). Most viewers recognized the Facebook post as yet another example of similar stunts aimed at fooling naive lawbreakers into voluntarily turning contraband over to law enforcement or otherwise incriminating themselves.
Indeed, the Harahan police chief admitted that the department “never had reason to believe Zika was able to contaminate meth” and that they have “no way to test for Zika in meth,” asserting that the Facebook post was “a stunt to raise awareness of drug abuse”:
Harahan Police Chief Tim Walker acknowledged that the post was just a stunt to raise awareness of drug abuse and that it’s not actually possible to have Zika virus in methamphetamine.
Walker said his department got the idea for the post from other law enforcement agencies that made essentially the same announcement over the past year, with police in Alabama, Ohio and New Jersey all doing so, according to media reports.
As for [the Facebook] post, Walker admitted that it had garnered a lot more attention than anticipated. He said the post had already gotten over 300,000 views and been mentioned in news publications around the world.
He said the hope is that anyone with a drug problem who reads it will take a moment to think about the dangers of illegal drugs. That’s what he defines as a success.
Police Chief Walker stated that as of the evening of 30 December 2018, no one had brought in meth to the department for testing.