The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled “toxic effects of opiates” killed a 17-year-old high school student Friday, suggesting the 23rd victim of “cheese” heroin in Dallas County.
Most cheese is a mixture of black tar heroin and crushed Tylenol PM, a sleep aid sold over the counter at drug stores. The tan, crumbly powder produced is said to be resemble dairy cheese and can either be smoked or snorted.
According to Weatherford Police Sgt. David Foreman, so far, there have been no reports of cheese in Weatherford schools.
“It just hasn’t caught on over here, thank goodness,” he said.
Foreman is one of four specially trained police officers assigned to patrol Weatherford schools. In May, he attended a regional Drug Awareness In Schools training session administered by Dallas County law enforcement. He said cheese and “strawberry quick,” a mixture of crystal meth and strawberry flavoring, were among topics of concern at the conference.
Strawberry flavoring is added to crystal meth in order to dilute the unpleasant taste produced from smoking the drug, according to Foreman, and he agreed the practice also helps dealers target a younger market.
Though some of the information he received is classified, Foreman said local cheese is selling for around $10 per gram and contains between 4 and 8 percent heroin. Depending on the ratio, Foreman said the Tylenol PM can actually be more deadly than the heroin.
“If you were to take a bottle of Tylenol PM, you’re going to die,” he said. “There are a few that are dying because they get too much heroin, but most [victims] are dying because their liver shuts down.”
In Weatherford schools, marijuana remains the drug of choice, followed by ecstasy and prescription medications, according to Foreman. He recalled local drug busts involving thousands of ecstasy pills.
“Other than marijuana, we haven’t seen a lot of drugs in the schools,” he said. “What we are seeing in the schools are prescription pills; where kids will steal a muscle relaxer from mom and go sell it at school, and we’re not getting a lot of that, but prescription drugs are what we’re seeing the most of.”
Foreman said school resource officers are absolutely capable of identifying the new drugs and confirmed no contact with either cheese or strawberry quick has occurred in Weatherford schools.
Historical trends suggest newer drugs emigrate from larger cities to suburbs. Foreman acknowledged the pattern and noted summer training courses designed to give Weatherford ISD teachers and counselors the information they need to identify the behavioral signals associated with drug use.
“A lot of times, the teachers know there is something not right with Billy, but they can’t quite figure it out,” he said. “So, what we’re trying to do is put a lot of information out there so they will absolutely be able to identify what they’re dealing with and say, well, the kid is either tired or on something.”
Sen. John Cornyn is one of several area lawmakers sponsoring legislation aimed at curbing the spread of cheese. Cornyn visited a Dallas County rehabilitation center days before the latest death was attributed to cheese.
“Raising awareness of the dangers of ‘cheese’ heroin is critical in the effort to stamp it out,” he said in a statement. “It’s important that law enforcement officials, school leaders and private organizations collaborate to curb this growing problem.”
Cornyn added an amendment to the Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007 that would make cheese part of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, which was designed to raise awareness and help fight the drug on a local level throughout Texas.