HILLSBOROUGH, Fla - A dangerous designer drug has made its way to the Tampa Bay area and it's being blamed for a USF student's death, according to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner.
Russell Alonzo, 20, of Spring Hill died April 5, 2013, after falling seven stories to his death at the Malibu USF Apartments at 11711 N. 50th St. in Tampa.
Elizabeth Alonzo, his mother, had only one word for what she's experiencing.
"Heartache," she said.
The LSD-like drug Russell ingested is the latest trend in psychedelic drugs. It goes by the name 25i, Nbome or Smiles.
"This drug would mimic the affects of LSD in that it affects the similar receptors," said Sarah Steinhardt, a doctor of pharmacy and assistant professor at USF.
Steinhardt explained that this new designer drug has been designated a scheduled-one drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency because it has no accepted medical use, is not available by prescription and comes with a high risk of dependence and abuse.
The narcotic comes in a powder form which is turned into a liquid and applied to blotter paper. Its affects are caused by ingesting the paper or even touching it.
"People should absolutely be careful and just not trust what they are getting and not try to experiment with anything," Steinhardt warned.
Aside from Russell, officials with Florida's Poison Information Center located in Tampa confirm only one other case in the area that was not fatal.
However, cases are popping up across the nation.
According to Steinhardt, the DEA reports the drug was responsible for 14 deaths that occurred in a 14-month span between 2012 and 2013.
Just last weekend, three Virginia teens were hospitalized after ingesting the drug.
The symptoms include increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating and dilated pupils, Steinhardt said.
He added that the drug is so potent it can cause dangerous, violent and even psychotic behavior.
Russell's mother told ABC Action News her son was found without his shirt or shoes.
She's hoping other parents can learn from her son's death.
"Please talk to your children about drugs because the more knowledge they have the better they can choose wisely who their friends are going to be," Alonzo said.
Russell is survived by his parents, younger brother and longtime girlfriend.
Tampa Police Department officials say they are still investigating the circumstances surrounding Russell's death. They want to determine if he took the drug willingly or if someone else drugged him.