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3 Students Arrested in School Pills Case

Police say they found hundreds of prescription painkillers in home of one after Los Alamitos High classmates passed out in class.

October 20, 2000|THERESA MOREAU | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Police have arrested three Los Alamitos High School students for allegedly supplying classmates with prescription painkillers after finding several hundred white tablets in the home of one of the suspects.

Authorities believe some of those pills caused three students to pass out in class Wednesday morning.

A 17-year-old Cypress boy was arrested Wednesday and booked on suspicion of distributing a controlled substance, Los Alamitos Police Capt. Todd Mattern said.

The second suspect, a 16-year-old Seal Beach boy, was arrested a short time later and booked on suspicion of distributing and possessing a controlled substance, Mattern said.

And the third suspect, a 14-year-old boy from Seal Beach, was arrested at the high school on Thursday without incident. He was booked on suspicion of furnishing a controlled substance, Mattern said.

Mattern said he was taken by surprise by Wednesday's events at the school.

"It was alarming, especially when you think of how many pills one of the students had," he said. "I don't know if there is a bigger problem at that high school, but it is cause for concern that this person had so many pills and that we had three [overdoses] in one day."

Two of the overdose victims were released Wednesday from the hospital. The third victim was kept overnight at the hospital for observation and released Thursday morning.

The large stash of round white tablets were found at the 16-year-old's Seal Beach home, and officials are testing them to determine their content. Officials believe they are some type of painkiller.

Dave Dorrans, an assistant principal at Los Alamitos High School, said the drug taken by the teens was Soma, a prescription painkiller.

School officials and police discussed concerns this spring that some students might be taking prescription drugs, but Dorrans said that he remembered no other incident of students being caught.

None of the students--either the three overdose victims or the three suspects--had any history of substance abuse in the school, he said.

Dorrans said a statewide zero-tolerance policy mandates that any student who is caught furnishing or selling drugs must be expelled from school. In addition, there is a school policy that requires a maximum five-day suspension for any student caught using illegal substances.

Soma, according to Rite Aid Pharmacy technician Mike Nyre, is a very common muscle relaxant generally used to alleviate back pain. He said the drug is extremely addictive, but is usually not fatal if taken in large quantities.

"Overdose symptoms are stupors, coma, respiratory depression, but very rarely death," Nyre said.

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