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KRLD Investigation: Synthetic Drugs Are Hard To Trace and Hard To Prosecute

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Synthetic drugs are illegal. Yet there are few prosecutions. They can cause deaths, yet few are ever reported. When Eric Brown of Frisco got the worst phone call of his life about his son Montana.

"I'm sorry Mr. Brown, Montana didn't make it," Brown explained. He was told his boys had probably overdosed on LSD.  But then the phone rang again. "I get a call from a local Frisco detective...a narcotics detective saying 'Mr. Brown, your... your boys didn't take LSD.  It's something else.  It's something like a 2-CE of a 25 I or  N-bomb.'  I'm just dumbfounded.  I've never heard of these things."

KRLD Investigative Series: Synthetic Drugs:

What he was hearing for the first time was cop-talk for synthetic drugs.  Montana had taken N-bomb, a synthetic form of LSD that is far more dangerous than the real thing.

"Using the drugs is like playing Russian roulette with your life," says Greg Willis who is the District Attorney of Collin County. He prosecutes the drug offenders. Yet, even he and his prosecutors have a hard time keeping up with the latest designer synthetics that have hit the street.

We were allowed into a seminar for Collin County prosecutors earlier this month. An undercover officer explained what synthetic drugs are making the rounds. "Synthetics have changed so much in just the last, I'd say even, two or three years.  You know, first it started with synthetic know...K-2, spice...uh....anything like that."

Prosecutors have a hard time prosecuting because, as DA Willis says, the formula for the synthetics can change instantly. "Because of the ever-changing variety of the chemicals that go into the manufacturing process.  So what is happening is not only have there been fatal overdoses, but a lot of these substances...for example, like,  weaponized weed is a term that's been coined," Willis said.

Synthetic drugs also put prosecutors in a tough spot.  Who is the criminal?  The supplier?  If they can be found.  The user?  they need to follow the law, but often they need help. Or some sort of warning.  Which brings us back to Eric Brown the parent who lost a child....a man who didn't know his sons were experimenting with drugs.  And that missed opportunity of another parent...who found pipes in a backpack and texts to three friends on her son's phone. Brown explained,  "And...she contacted the first two parents. And they blew her off...not my kid...that's your kid.  The third parent she didn't bother to contact after that negative experience.  I was the third parent. So, you know.  Had I have known...this was something I could have addressed sooner."

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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