March 18, 2011 -- Police reportedly arrested this evening a suspect in connection with the mass overdose of a synthetic drug that left one man dead and 10 others hospitalized in Blaine, Minn.
He is suspected of providing the hallucinogenic drug 2C-E that killed Trevor Robinson, 19, according to the Associated Press. Robinson was the father of a 5-month-old baby.
Most of the victims have been released from the hospital, according to the AP.
The group took the drug during a spring-break party at the home of one of the hospitalized boys. The other victims fled the residence and were suffering the effects of the overdose at separate locations before authorities found them and took them to three different hospitals. Two hospitals had released all but one of the overdose victims by early Friday afternoon, the third hospital did not provide an update on its victims, said police.
The hallucinogenic drug is also known as "Europa" and, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, "Tootsie," a play of its chemical name, "Two"-"C"-"E." Officials say the drug was ordered on the Internet.
"Just because you have an assumption it's legal and can buy it online, in no way is it safe," Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff's office told WCCO-TV.
The drug is illegal. It is an analog, or a close chemical cousin, of 2C-B, a controlled substance that is legally available only to registrants such as researchers, chemists or certain doctors; it is illegal for anyone else to have it.
Because the DEA identifies it as an analog of a controlled substance, 2C-E is also technically illegal.
Synthetic hallucinogens are becoming increasingly more available, coming from countries such as China and Thailand where there is little regulation and oversight on the production of chemicals, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"We're seeing a lot of kids ordering them online, they're available on the Internet, and there's no regulation in the production of these substances," Dawn Dearden of the DEA said. "You have no idea of the dosage you're getting. It can be different form buyer to buyer, purchase to purchase."
Lawmakers and drug enforcement agencies are increasing their attention to the availability of synthetic drugs. In Minnesota, the state House last month approved a bill to ban synthetic marijuana. In February, New York Sen. Charles Schumer proposed a bill to add bath salts to a list of federally controlled substances. Phony bath salts made with methylenedioxypyrovalerone and mephedrone are designed with the express purpose of giving a cheap, legal high. They can cause hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, even some deaths.
Suspicious Wrappers May Flag Drug Use
Parents need to pay attention to suspicious wrappers and products, say police and law enforcement agencies. Drugs marketed as products typically have names and brands on them, and may have the words "made in China" or "made in Thailand." The red flag is when the wrapping has no listed ingredients.
"If you look at this product and you see on the back that there is no labeling [and] you don't know what's in it, you need to be suspicious," Dearden said.
Dearden said that parents should educate themselves about synthetic drugs. If they find wrappers and don't know what they are, they should ask their children or take the wrappers to local police.
The 2C-E drug falls into the same family as ecstasy, Dr. David Surtleff of the National Institute on Drug Abuse said, and is just the latest in a wave of popular illegal drugs.
Aside from hallucinations, ecstasy and ecstasy-like drugs "hijack" serotonin neurotransmitters, causing more serotonin to be released. The result can be a boost in energy and feelings of euphoria.
But the effects vary by individual. Researchers still don't understand the differences.
"A hallucinogen can produce bad trips," Surtleff said. "[It] can result in anxiety, despair, fear -- these drugs are unpredictable in the sensation they produce."
Drugs in the ecstasy family can also cause heart and kidney failure, as well as hyperthermia, raising body temperatures enough to cause death.
It is unclear what caused the Minnesota teen's death Thursday evening. A medical examiner is performing an autopsy but results will not be known for sometime, police said.