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Grand Forks Police say they're having tough time staying ahead of new synthetic drugs

Police say it's difficult to stay ahead of users and makers of new drugs they say have killed two teenagers the past week as well as being linked to several others overdosing.

Police say it's difficult to stay ahead of users and makers of new drugs they say have killed two teenagers the past week as well as being linked to several others overdosing.

"It's a cat and mouse game," Grand Forks Police Sgt. Travis Jacobson said. "As soon as we get on top of it, they find a new (way to make it.)"

Jacobson spoke as part of an unusual and quick public response by local, state and federal law enforcement to what they say is an unprecedented scourge. He held a news conference this morning to warn parents and young people about the unusual dangers posed by the new drugs.

On Tuesday, federal, state and local law enforcement from North Dakota and Minnesota met in Grand Forks to jointly issue warnings about what they say is one or more deadly batches of psychedelics, or hallucinogens. Arrests were announced Wednesday, including murder charges against an East Grand Forks man.

Jacobson said this morning during a news conference at the police station that the synthetic drugs can be made with a few of the thousands of household products found on grocery store shelves. He said the easy access to the chemicals is one problem that has led to the rampant increase in use.


Jacobson said synthetic drugs can be easily made and mixed, even by young teens.

They have become popular because they are undetectable and allow users to bypass any tests that could cost them their jobs, he said.

Elijah Stai, 17, of Park Rapids, Minn. died June 15 at Altru Hospital, after going into a coma two days earlier in East Grand Forks. the latest victim of the sudden surge in synthetic drug use. Stai died June 15 in Grand Forks after ingesting psilocybin, a hallucinogen in white powder form he mixed with a melted chocolate bar, then cooled.

Christian Bjerk, 18, of Grand Forks, died June 11, found on a lawn on the north side of the city. Bjerk also apparently as a result of a similar overdose, investigators have said, although details of what drug he took have not been released. Others have been hospitalized recently from ingesting the new drugs, according to law enforcement.

Sgt. Jacobson said users have found many ways to ingest the drugs that come in many forms.

"It can be anything," Jacobson said. "Anyone using is becoming a genius in masking what they are using. Imaginations run wild in how they are doing it."

After ingesting such drugs, users go on trips that can last 12 to 14 hours, Johnson said. But the effects can vary from person to person.

Jacobson compares it to alcohol use, in that "everybody has their own limit."


He said the new synthetic drugs appear to cause more unusual behavior than more well-known illegal narcotics, such as marijuana.

Jacobson said users often display bizarre symptoms, such as violent yelling, screaming and swearing, hitting one's head, hitting oneself, discoloration of the skin and hallucinating.

He said law enforcement is working fast to get information out as quickly as possible to keep anyone else from getting hurt from the new drugs.

Police are asking parents and kids to alert the authorities if they think anyone is experiencing these issues. Anonymous tips can be sent through Crime Stoppers and educational sessions can be planned through the police department's Community Resource Bureau.

Anyone with information, or seeking information, can call the Grand Forks Police Department at (701) 787-8000.

Reach Jerke at (701) 787-6736; (800) 477-6572, ext. 6736; or send email to tjerke@gfherald.com .

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