Tarrant County narcotics officers say they have mostly just heard stories about 25i-NBOMe, the synthetic hallucinogen found in the blood of Christian Taylor, the 19-year-old killed last month by an Arlington police officer.
The drug has been linked to only one other death in Tarrant County, in 2014.
The autopsy report said Taylor had 25i-NBOMe, also called “N-Bomb,” and marijuana in his system when he died.
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He had crashed his SUV through the glass front of the showroom of a car dealership in Arlington. Surveillance video captured him behaving erratically in the parking lot, including jumping on top of a Ford Mustang, breaking its windshield, and driving his Jeep Grand Cherokee through the dealership’s gate and then the showroom window.
Inside the showroom, he encountered the officer who shot him.
The presence of N-Bomb, which is supposed to mimic the effects of LSD but is wildly unpredictable, may explain some of Taylor’s behavior.
It’s pretty nasty. Chances are that something bad will happen to you if you take some.
Ronnie Cloud, commander of an 11-city drug task force that covers Northeast Tarrant County
“We know it’s out there, but we haven’t seen a lot of it,” said Ronnie Cloud, commander of an 11-city drug task force that covers Northeast Tarrant County.
“It’s pretty nasty. Chances are that something bad will happen to you if you take some.”
According to Cloud, three men in their 20s went to the hospital after taking the drug at a Saginaw residence in April 2014. One man was treated and released almost immediately, and another went into a coma and stayed in the hospital for weeks.
Moris Kuresevic, 20, died.
“It’s been over a year, but I’m still pretty shocked by it,” his mother, Ilinka Kuresevic, said in a thick Eastern European accent. “I come in 1998 to the United States and my child die here. He was only 20. I never forget.”
The drug was the subject of a 2014 report by the World Health Organization that said it “appears to have stimulant and particularly hallucinogenic effects” and “has been reportedly sold as LSD or as a ‘legal’ alternative to LSD or ‘research chemical,’ usually on the Internet.’”
The report noted that no safety data had been published on the drug’s toxicity. The Drug Enforcement Administration declared the drug illegal for two years in November 2013 under the Controlled Substances Act.
The drug has been linked to only one other death in Tarrant County, in 2014.
A 2013 report by the DEA says the drug was linked to the deaths of at least 19 Americans from March 2012 to August 2013.
The average age of the dead was 20. In three cases, “unpredictable, violent behavior due to 25i-NBOMe toxicity” led to their deaths, the report said.
In the case of a 21-year-old male, “a sudden surge of violent behavior caused him to pull over and destroy the interior of the car, and he then became unresponsive,” the release said.
Users are playing Russian roulette, according to a DEA news release.
‘No one knows anything’
The Kuresevics immigrated from Yugoslavia when Moris was just a boy, said his father, Elijah Kuresevic.
On the night Moris was taken to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, paramedics found him having a seizure on the floor of a residence in the 600 block of Blue Ridge Trail in Saginaw, his father said.
Moris’ hospital chart indicated acute liver and kidney injury, respiratory failure and brain injury, his autopsy said. The postmortem toxicology report indicated positive results for N-Bomb, marijuana, hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin, and hydromorphone.
Moris was pronounced dead within hours.
“No one knows anything,” Elijah Kuresevic said. “It was an accident. It happened and that was it.
“The police told me [Moris] died from a drug a German doctor made. The police said you can go on the Internet, order the drug from China, and they deliver it to your house in a few days.”
DEA special agent Eduardo Chavez said it’s a misconception among drug dealers that the government cannot prosecute those selling this sort of drug. N-Bomb falls into a class of synthetics known as research chemicals and was specifically made illegal by the DEA in 2013.
The Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986 allows law enforcement to treat many synthetic drugs as controlled substances if they are proved to be chemically similar to another illicit drug, Chavez said.
Despite the danger and uncertainty surrounding them, synthetics such as N-Bomb remain popular with certain groups because of the mistaken belief that they will not be identified by routine drug tests that some people must submit to, according to DEA literature.
“As long as there is a market out there, people will go to great ends to find it, and others will go to great ends to provide it,” Chavez said. “The drugs out there being marketed for young adults are exponentially more dangerous for people than they once were.
“You just don’t know how your body is going to react. There are no long-term studies.”
Elijah Kuresevic said he tried to keep an eye on his son, watching the websites he visited and the friends he spoke with. But in the end, he was in the dark.
“My child was never any problem,” Elijah Kuresevic said. “He was a good student. But you never know. They can do stupid things sometimes. Maybe he did this more than once. I never found out.”
The Christian Taylor case
It’s unclear where Taylor was before he ended up at the Classic Buick GMC dealership in Arlington. Police Chief Will Johnson said Taylor told officers that he was there to steal a car.
A college sophomore, Taylor had a brief encounter with rookie officer Brad Miller inside the dealership, and Miller fatally shot Taylor.
Miller was fired for what Johnson called tactical and judgment errors that led to “a catastrophic outcome.”
John Snyder, Miller’s attorney, said Johnson was seeking to appease anti-police activists by firing Miller. Snyder said perhaps Taylor’s autopsy report will help his client’s case.
“This is very significant evidence reported by the medical examiner,” Snyder said in an email. “In light of this crucial development we hope that Chief Johnson will reconsider his rush to judgment.”
John Fullinwider, a founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality who helped organize an Arlington protest after Taylor’s death, said the autopsy findings change little.
25i-NBOMe was the subject of a 2014 report by the World Health Organization that said it “appears to have stimulant and particularly hallucinogenic effects” and “has been reportedly sold as LSD or as a ‘legal’ alternative to LSD or ‘research chemical,’ usually on the Internet.’”
“The presence of synthetic drugs and some cannabis found in Taylor’s system may partially explain his aberrant behavior at the car dealership, but in no way does it mitigate his unnecessary and tragic death at the hands of the Arlington Police Department,” Fullinwider said.
“Former officer Miller is the chief suspect in a homicide; he should be arrested and brought before a judge like any other suspect.”
Arlington police are still awaiting additional information before turning the case over to the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, said Paul Rodriguez, police spokesman.
The district attorney’s office will review the file, conduct its own investigation if necessary and present the case to a grand jury, said Samantha Jordan, spokeswoman for the DA’s office.
It’s unclear how many North Texans might be using N-Bomb, narcotics officers said.
Moris Kuresevic was the only deadly overdose identified by the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office in the past two years involving N-Bomb, said Carol Lawson, a spokeswoman for the office.
Kuresevic had almost 48 nanograms of 25i-NBOMe per milliliter of blood when he died. Taylor had 0.76 nanogram of the drug per milliliter of blood, according to the medical examiner. A nanogram is a billionth of a gram.
Ray Perez is commander of the sector of the Tarrant County Drug Task Force that includes the Arlington-Mansfield area, where Taylor lived and attended high school. He said he hasn’t seen N-Bomb in the area.
Perez said he is not sure why.
“Remember ‘cheese,’ the heroin/Tylenol mix that was a big deal in Dallas a while back?” Perez asked. “It never hit here in Fort Worth or Tarrant County. I know the officers in Mansfield are very proactive because of all the high schools out there.
“It kind of makes you wonder where Taylor got it,” Perez said.