Underground drug culture expanding in Austin

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by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

kvue.com

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 8 at 7:21 PM

AUSTIN -- Austin police warn about a popular drug that's highly addictive and its use is becoming more prevalent in teens.

People used to be able to buy drugs with methylone in them legally. Now it's been added to the list of controlled substances.

Austin Police investigators said this has not stopped drug makers from making their own version, at home, with all kinds of dangerous chemicals.

"It's just becoming a huge problem in the Austin area. In the club scene, the live music scene. It's one of those drugs that's ever-evolving. We're trying to keep up with it and it's literally changing all the time. The chemists are out there making this stuff different all the time," said an undercover APD officer who wants to remain anoynymous.

At least two recent methylone cases have made Austin headlines. Officers made several arrests and busted two large drug rings.

In one case, Jason McClure and his girlfriend Sara Gray, a UT nursing student with a 4.0 GPA were arrested for experimenting with chemicals to make drugs that mimick cocaine and ecstacy.

"He was literally making this stuff in their apartment. He had hot plates, beakers, he was making the drugs," said the undercover officer.

This summer, police arrested Jessie Olivieri and charged him with possession of three kilos of methylone. Investigators said he ordered 10 kilos from China. One kilo costs $2,000 dollars which is a street value of $120,000.

In 2010, 32 people died in Travis County with methadone in their system, a drug similar to methylone, that was banned years ago.

"It's not until we can get these different chemicals moved to the emergency legislature lists we can get it removed from the shelves," said the undercover officer. 

The Travis County Medical Examiner is working to gather the 2011 data from all deaths in the county last year. They expect to release the number of people who had methylone or other similar drugs in their system by early next week.

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