A Montgomery County man is behind bars after an investigation revealed he was allegedly dealing an LSD-like synthetic hallucinogen that local authorities encountered for the first time in our area earlier this year.
Police arrested 21-year-old Mohammed Hassan Hanif of the Unit block of East Sixth Street in Lansdale Aug. 21 and charged him with multiple felonies including possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver a designer drug.
Authorities said they first suspected Hanif was selling drugs in April after receiving a tip that he was distributing LSD in Lansdale.
The Lansdale Borough Police and the Montgomery County District Attorney's Drug Task Force learned Hanif planned to sell what they believed was LSD in Hatfield Township, according to reports.
Investigators conducted two controlled buys of the substance, one in late April and another in late May.
After each purchase, detectives recovered two tabs of the drug, which appeared similar in size and shape to LSD. But tests revealed the substance actually contained synthetic phenethylamines, including 25C-NBOMe and 25I-NBOMe, according to authorities.
Known as "25-I" or "N-Bomb," the drug mimics the effects of LSD, police said. Authorities said this is the first time they dealt with this designer drug in Montgomery County.
The relatively unknown drug is causing alarm in other parts of the country, like Richmond, Va.
NBC12 reported in February 2012 that medical personnel handled at least five overdose cases in just one weekend. At least two of the patients had bleeding in the brain after overdosing, NBC12 reports.
The substance can come in powder form or as a liquid solution, and may be soaked onto blotter paper or laced on food, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which declared synthetic phenethylamines as illegal for two years in November 2013.
"These compounds have been linked to the deaths of at least 19 Americans aged 15 to 29 between March of 2012 and August of 2013," the DEA stated in a November 2013 news release. "The NOBMe compounds are substantially more potent than other hallucinogenic compounds, and the data suggest that extremely small amounts of these drugs can cause seizures, cardiac and respiratory arrest, and death."
The DEA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are evaluating the substance to determine if it should be made permanently illegal.
Hanif is being held in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility on $20,000 cash bail, court records show.
A preliminary hearing for the suspect is scheduled for Sept. 4.