FLOWER MOUND (CBSDFW.COM) - It's a sobering message for parents to hear when teenagers talk about their access to drugs. "It's a huge problem," said 17-year-old Brigit Manz of Flower Mound, who points out just how easily North Texas teens can get illegal drugs. "It's everywhere. It's right down the street. You can do it in 45 minutes. You can go down to your neighbor's, you make four to five phone calls, and he knows this girl who knows this guy who knows her cousin who knows her brother that has it."
Manz even explained that drugs are often exchanged at school, in between classes. She said, "You call someone that night and say, 'I want this. Can you bring it to school tomorrow?' And they do. And you see them in the hallway and you can exchange it like that."
Regina Deloach-Bennett is a coordinator of safe and drug-free schools for the Lewisville Independent School District. "Absolutely mind-boggling," she said about this trend, but adding that she had heard of drug exchanges at the schools before. "One of the things we did this year on a more aggressive level was to have student meetings, so students can share their concerns on what they see on the campuses."
But homes and schools are not the only problem areas. Manz and other students said that youngsters will also party with drugs in cheap motel rooms along Interstate-35E. "That was a very normal occurrence, because all of the kids your parents didn't want you to hang out with, that can't come to the house, you can be with," Manz said.
Earlier this week, federal prosecutors announced that 17 people -- most of them between the ages of 18 and 20 -- were indicted for their roles in a heroin ring based out of Flower Mound. (Click here to read more about the arrests.) The defendants did not speak to reporters on their way out of court.
But Kathy O'Keefe had something to say. She lost her son, Brett, last year after a heroin overdose. He was one of three Flower Mound teens to die from a heroin overdose, kick-starting a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation. "Flower Mound is a nice town," O'Keefe said. "Everyone's got their problems, but you can't keep covering them up. You have to address them."
According to records, between 2007 and 2010, more than 100 people ages 21 and younger died from drug overdoses in Tarrant County, Denton County and Collin County. (CBS 11 News requested statistics for Dallas County, but has not yet received that information.)
James Capra is a special agent in charge of the DEA in Dallas. Capra said that, normally, his agency only investigates national and international drug rings. But in the case of Flower Mound, the DEA made an exception. "We don't typically do this type of investigation, but it warrants it," he said. "When we were looking at it, it was like... this is incredible."
According to Capra, teenagers often start down the wrong path by smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. But then, those teens will experiment with painkillers, ecstasy and heroin -- all of which are highly addictive. It is a series of bad choices that can end in tragedy. "We're hearing from some of these men and women that it's too costly. It's too costly to go buy oxycontin or oxycodone. It costs them too much," Capra said. "So, they went back to heroin, where they get a dime bag of heroin for $10."
Some parents in Flower Mound have started a group called 'Winning the Fight' to help youngsters and parents battle the city's drug problem. "The strength he's given me carries that on," said O'Keefe, talking about her late son.
Meanwhile, Manz is now being home-schooled in order to avoid the Flower Mound drug problem. "I can't go back and take anything back," she said. "But at this point, I can go forward and help other kids."
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