New Russian street drug gaining popularity in U.S.

The use of Phenazepam has spiked rapidly and has been a factor in a number of Texas deaths.


DALLAS, TX (NBC) - Officials have a warning about a dangerous new street drug. It's called Phenazepam. It was developed in Russia, but is now gaining popularity in the U.S. The use of the drug has spiked rapidly and has been a factor in a number of Texas deaths.

It happened the night of January 7th. 18-year-old William Brawley, a senior, was hit by a car when he and two others tried to run across busy Loop 820 after his own car ran out of gas.

At first his parents didn't understand, but now the results of toxicology tests may provide a clue.

Brawley had a Russian drug called "Phenazepam" in his system, and it likely affected his judgement.

Phenazepham acts as a tranquilizer that is more powerful than Xanax or Valium. It's legally sold online as tablets, pills, or powder, sometimes in colorful packaging.

In Tarrant County, drug agents are alarmed. The Medical Examiner says Phenazepham may have contributed to nine recent deaths, four of them in just the past three months.

It was also among the drugs found in Michael Schmidt. He was the Dallas lawyer who called police to his condo in January, and then shot at arriving officers before they shot and killed him.

William Brawley's parents hope others learn from all this.

There are reports of users overdosing on the drug or testing positive for the drug after a fatal car crash. Sometimes, the victims don't even know what they're taking.

Brawley's parents say they learned later their son thought he had bought Xanax.

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