Three Houston men are scheduled to appear in court Monday--charged with selling a lethal mixture of drugs to addicts. It's the latest chapter in what appears to be a growing epidemic of deadlier street drugs.
CBS News correspondent Maureen Maher has the details.
The arrests came within hours of the funeral for the youngest overdose victim, 16-year-old Jennifer Rivera. Three men are now charged with delivering the drugs that killed her.
Captain Richard Holland of the Houston police says, "They are believed to be involved in the chain of events that ultimately got that drug or that dope to this girl."
Grief swept through this northeast Houston neighborhood this week after 15 people died from snorting or shooting up a potent street drug.
The recorded transcript of a frantic call to 911 describes one case:
Caller: "My mom won't wake up!" Dispatcher: "Is she breathing?" Caller: "She was light-headed and dizzy. She was throwing up and she was, like, foam was coming out of her mouth. I don't know."
The symptoms described fit toxicology results--a lethal concoction of cocaine and heroin.
Dispatcher: "Is she breathing?"
Caller: "She was light-headed and dizzy. She was throwing up and she was, like, foam was coming out of her mouth. I don't know."
Harris county medical examiner, Dr. Joye Carter says, "This is the tip of the iceberg. I think you need to be aware that this appears to be a deadly combination. At this point, it could be a fatal high."
Experts say with new and improved dangerous drugs being made and sold all the time that fatal highs are on the rise around the country.
In Upstate New York this summer, a bust in Buffalo yielded $10,000 worth of a purer form of heroin, but not before some two dozen people died.
Drug counselors believe news of a mixed bag of stronger street drugs could actually drive the desire for them higher.
Drug counselor Denis Gilgrest says, "Seeing the bags on TV is gonna help them see what they want . . . they want to try it--and a lot of them will want to try it."
Pictures like this are not enough to scare addicts straight, but Buffalo's district attorney hopes the threat of a long stint behind bars just might slow down dealers.
"I'll look at everything from criminal negligent homicide to depraved indifference murder," says Frank Clark, Erie County district attorney.
Authorities in Harris County eventually they may do the same--file multiple murder charges that could lead to the death penalty.
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