MADISON - Three to four more arrests are expected in a drug distribution ring involving an LSD-like synthetic drug, Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker said on Wednesday following an arrest last week.
Nineteen-year-old Madison resident Kaleb Chhabra was arrested Friday with around 700 hits of the synthetic chemical known as 25I after a detailed investigation by sheriff's deputies. The Mississippi State student was allegedly selling the doses in Madison, as well as Starkville. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute and released on a $40,000 bond.
"We started hearing a lot of rumblings from kids in the community about this new LSD - they called it acid," Tucker explained. "We got to looking and started finding some of it showing up here. Once we identified some of the folks involved in it, we set up surveillance and started an in-depth investigation."
Tucker said Chhabra was ordering "sheets" of dosage hits online and having them sent to a post office box in Madison. A traffic stop after a pick-up last Friday ended with Chhabra in handcuffs. On him were some 700 hits of the drug with a street value of $5,600.
"They're paying 30 cents a hit for this over the internet," Tucker added. "And they're selling it for $8-$10 a piece."
The sheriff said more arrests are coming soon.
This isn't the county's first run-in with the synthetic drug though.
Last month, Starkville Police arrested Madison brothers Skylar O'Kelly, 21, and brother Daylin O'Kelly, 19, on charges of manslaughter, culpable negligence and possession of a controlled substance in the wake of the overdose death of Thomas Parker Rodenbaugh, 22.
Police have said in reports that Chhabra's and the O'Kelly brothers' cases are not connected, but Tucker said they all knew each other.
The chemical compound Chhabra is accused of distributing, 25-I, is a derivative of the psychedelic drug 2C-I. It was first created in a laboratory in 2003 at the University of Berlin.
Tucker said it was only outlawed in Mississippi in July due to a synthetic drug statute.
Several deaths have been attributed to the chemical, although it's unclear, in each case, whether or not other drugs were present at the time of death.
Rodenbaugh was found dead around 2 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 10 after Starkville police said he had taken at least one dose of 25-I with the O'Kelly brothers earlier in the evening.
In November of 2012, 21-year-old Clayton Otwell of Little Rock, Ark. reportedly died after a stranger plopped a single drop of 25-I from a vial into Otwell's nose at Voodoo Fest in New Orleans. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Otwell had imbibed several vodka-Red Bulls prior to taking the drug.
According to the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, recreational use of 25I can carry a significant risk of both pharmacological and behavioral toxicity, and that several non-fatal overdoses have required prolonged hospitalization.
by Tyler Cleveland
September 17, 2014
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