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Attorney arrested in largest Omaha hallucinogen bust

By Julie Cornell

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    OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — Omaha police are dealing with the largest drug bust of its kind in the city as they investigate a drug cooking operation where an area attorney is accused of manufacturing large amounts of a potent hallucinogen.

“It’s a psychedelic drug. It’s like psychedelic mushrooms but on steroids,” said Lt. Steve Fornoff, the Commander of the Omaha Police Narcotics Unit.

Investigators said they found at least 14 pounds of a chemical hallucinogen called DMT, or Dimethyltryptamine. The dark liquid was being stored in glass canning jars. At least one jar tested positive for fentanyl and heroin. Fornoff said the chemical is especially dangerous because if you have a pre-existing mental health condition, when you come off of the DMT high, that mental health condition is enhanced.

“What we believe is they’re trying to get people that are in the market for a psychedelic drug hooked on fentanyl and meth because they’ll take it thinking they want the psychedelic high and when they’re done, they’re hooked on the other drug,” said Fornoff.

Attorney Jonathan Lawler is under arrest and faces two felony drug charges. The 34-year-old is a private practice attorney with his office listed in the Blackstone area. His law license in Nebraska and Florida are suspended. Lawler graduated from UNO and Emory University Law School, where he was on the Dean’s List and was a standout student.

“This is a local attorney, so he knows the difference between right and wrong,” said Fornoff.

Police were called to a home in Omaha’s Florence area on October 15th. The landlord of the property reported that he found a possible drug cooking operation in his rental home. A man ran from the scene and police said he hid the jars in the woods nearby. Police arrested 47-year-old Christopher Mayeaux for possession and tampering with evidence.

Fornoff said there was a drug cooking set-up in the home where the cook was using common chemicals to make DMT and then cooking it down to crystal form so that it could allegedly be mixed with meth and other substances.

“I think he was working on his own, but I think he was in the process of making something he could mix with another drug,” said Fornoff, who also said this wasn’t his first batch.

Lawler was arrested in Omaha on an outstanding warrant from Missouri for not showing up in court after a property damage accident. Fornoff said this type of DMT is potent and dangerous.

“You’ll start seeing things that aren’t there. You’ll start thinking you can do things you can’t do, like fly. You’ll see aliens and stuff,” said Fornoff.

Fornoff is warning recreational drug users that the likelihood of tainted street drugs is incredibly high right now, and they are extremely volatile and dangerous. Drug dealers often make fake prescription pills that have high levels of unpredictable and inconsistent fentanyl, which is highly addictive. A single grain of it can kill a person, impeding their lung function.

“Now we’re seeing 7 out of 10 pills has a lethal dose. So the likelihood you’re going to overdose on fentanyl now is extremely high and the chances of you dying from it are equally as high,” said Fornoff.

Fornoff said the DMT being made in the home on Tucker Street can be made into a paste to vape, or it can be added to marijuana and is undetectable. It can also be evaporated and turned into a crystals to combine it with other powdered or crystal drugs.

Fornoff said in Nebraska and 6 surrounding states, fentanyl has taken off as the number one drug they’re finding, responsible for overdoses and that it’s prevalent. So the fact that that this crossover drug was being created to possibly enhance the fentanyl drug operation is alarming. Fornoff said the fentanyl is coming from China and Mexico and Omaha is a hub for distributing it.

“Right now, it’s so dangerous to take any kind of drug not prescribed by a doctor or given from a pharmacist,” said Fornoff.

Lawler is due in court in late November to face drug charges.

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