Officials: Dangerous designer drug gaining popularity in Mississippi
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
Experts say a new synthetic drug similar to LSD is sweeping across college campuses.
Law enforcement said that powerful drug is already showing up in Mississippi.
It goes by street names like "N-Bomb" and "Smiles," but to the Drug Enforcement Administration, it's called 25i -- short for 25I-NBOMe -- a synthetic hallucinogenic compound some say is more dangerous than traditional LSD.
"This is something that's made by your basement chemist," Jackson DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Floyd H. Baker said. "You take that chance, in some cases, by what we've seen recently, with deaths in different states."
Parents who spoke exclusively to WLBT over the weekend said they're convinced their college-age children smoked marijuana laced with 25-I.
As those young adults continue to recover from the psychological effects, one parent said the synthetic craze is growing more prevalent in Mississippi.
Earlier this month, 22-year-old Thomas Parker Rodenbaugh of Madison died after authorities said he overdosed on LSD.
Rodenbaugh was also a student at Mississippi State.
Starkville Police Lt. Tom Roberson said he believes the LSD in that case was synthetic; however, that has not been confirmed.
Roberson said the department is still waiting on toxicology results to determine the compound.
State Crime Lab director Sam Howell said two years ago, synthetic LSD was nowhere to be found in Mississippi.
Now they're seeing more instances of it now than ever before, through samples sent for analysis from law enforcement agencies around the state, he added.
Just last month, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics busted a Vicksburg man who had more than six thousand units of synthetic LSD -- valued at more than $600,000 -- near a Brandon school.
"When you've got a population as large as these schools are, that's a lot, and you know it's not just gonna stay on the campus," Baker said. "It's gonna move outside the city, and as it moves, it'll move throughout the state. It'll sweep the state."
Howell agreed with Baker, adding they haven't seen emerging patterns with synthetic LSD yet, but typical drug trends suggest colleges and universities are breeding grounds for this kind of activity.
"Historically, we do see increases in college towns and other feeder markets," Howell said.
What's perhaps most troubling to drug agents like Baker is something else entirely, though: the uncertainty that comes with a drug that's so new, they're not really sure what its ramifications will be.
"Not enough studies have been done on it to really give us an complete understanding on what it can and can't do," Baker said.
DEA agents say in a 17-month period, synthetic LSD was tied to 19 deaths nationwide among teens and young adults.
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