Charges pending in overdose investigation

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By Lisa Treiber-Walter —

 

As this community struggles to understand the “why” of losing a Fredericksburg High School (FHS) teenager to drugs last week, police here continue to work toward the “who” and “how” so they can charge those responsible.

“There will be charges filed, but who we are going to charge and what charges will be filed are yet to be determined,” said Fredericksburg Police Department (FPD) Lieutenant Steve Wetz.

Samuel (Sammy) Herrera, 16, son of David and Trish Herrera, was buried here last Wednesday afternoon, April 24, following a funeral ceremony that over-filled the capacity of Holy Ghost Lutheran Church.

The tall FHS sophomore athlete died in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 20, shortly after he and fellow FHS student James (Jamie) Jarreau, 17, reportedly ingested “25c-NBOMe” — a designer hallucinogenic drug so new that it has yet to be outlawed.

Jarreau, who had been airlifted to University Hospital in critical condition, has since recovered and returned to school.

A sampling of the same drug taken by the two teenagers is undergoing testing in the Department of Public Safety (DPS) laboratory in Austin, Wetz said.

While results of that testing are not complete, local investigators have been told by lab officials that the substance the local boys took was not illegal.

25c-NBOMe has been deemed a synthetic research chemical that has most recently been taken as a designer recreational drug for its “intense” hallucinogenic effects just shy of those experienced by users of LSD.

The DPS lab has not officially ruled on what the substance is, Wetz said, adding, “the reason they are having trouble is because of the newness of this substance.”

No human consumption of 25c-NBOMe has been recorded prior to 2010. Still, just over a week ago, it found its way into the hands of local teenagers who bought it from another youth who purchased it through the Internet.

While the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 outlaws nine synthetic psychedelic drugs in the “2C” family, of which this new drug is derived, no current law covers 25c-NBOMe or other similar new variations.

While waiting on the lab’s final findings, both local police and officers with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are continuing to investigate.

“We are currently in the process of putting together search warrants for the phones and computers that were used by all the different subjects involved in the incident that day and night,” Wetz said.

Those pieces of evidence will give detectives a better picture of how and when the events unfolded, who exactly was involved and how they were involved, he said.

“When we get finished with our investigation and the FDA gets finished with its investigation, we’re going to get together with our prosecuting attorneys and decide which charges should be filed,” Wetz said. But he cautioned that the process could take anywhere from six to eight weeks.

“I want everybody to understand that this is not going to go away,” Wetz said. “It is a long investigation because of the seriousness of the matter that needs to be looked into, and we want to make sure this is conducted correctly.”

“A crime has been committed, but whether it is tried out in state court or in federal court has yet to be determined,” Wetz said.

For more on this story, read this week’s print and online editions of the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. If you are a print subscriber, your full online subscription is free. All you need to do is call 830-997-2155 to get a password. If you are not a subscriber, call 997-2155 or click on the ‘Subscribe’ button on the left side of the home page and sign up today!

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