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2 Mass. Students Charged In DC Dorm-Room Bust

By Jessica Gresko, Associated Press
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(credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — It was supposed to be the Georgetown University dorm room of an honors student studying foreign affairs, but police say what they found had the makings of a drug lab: a cooler with dry ice, a canister of carbon dioxide, ammonia, lighter fluid and a turkey baster.

A Georgetown University freshman and a friend from the University of Richmond were scheduled to appear Wednesday afternoon in federal court to face charges of manufacturing illegal drugs. Charles Smith and John Perrone, 18-year-olds from a Boston suburb, were arrested over the weekend.

Officials at first said they suspected they had discovered a meth lab at Georgetown’s Harbin Hall, but the drug the young men were eventually accused of making is DMT, a rare hallucinogenic. An online video on making the drug suggests that a turkey baster would be used to skim off some liquid from a DMT mixture and that is then frozen to make crystals.

“It’s some pretty messed-up stuff,” said Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Rusty Payne, who said DMT can cause side effects such as seizures. “Some people have said it’s like having a near-death experience.”

The components used to make the drug can also be dangerous. A drug agency official said they “were potentially highly flammable and explosive.” While police searched Smith’s room Saturday at Harbin Hall, hundreds of freshman were evacuated, many in pajamas, until officials were sure the dorm was safe.

The arrests have officials scratching their heads. The teenagers are from Andover, Mass., an upper-middle-class suburb 20 miles north of Boston. Both teens were honor roll students at Andover High.

Despite the science-lab like equipment in Smith’s ninth-floor room in Harbin Hall — police said they also found a grinder and rubber gloves — it’s not clear whether either teen had a scientific background. Smith is a student in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, where students study history and international politics.

In a Facebook roommate survey Perrone wrote that he plans to study business with a concentration in finance. He says he likes “South Park” and “really anything on comedy central.” Grades are “quite important.” He lists pizza as his favorite food and answers yes to questions about whether he parties and drinks. And does he smoke?

“Depends on what we’re smoking,” he writes. “But I’m not a fan of cigarettes and wouldn’t smoke in a dorm.”

DMT can be smoked, but can also be snorted as a powder or injected as a liquid. Users might also take a marijuana cigarette and dip it in liquid DMT, officials said.

Whether Smith and Perrone return to classes remains to be seen.

Violating Georgetown University’s code of conduct can result in suspension or expulsion, but spokeswoman Julie Green Bataille said that any discipline would be confidential. University of Richmond spokesman Brian Eckert says any student found to have violated a drug law is subject to sanction by the university.

___

Associated Press researcher Barbara Sambriski contributed to this report.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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