May 15, 2023

10 Investigates started looking into N,N-Dimethylpentylone after we talked to forensic toxicologist Dr. Bruce Goldberger in November 2022.

Goldberger is the Chief of Forensic Medicine at the University of Florida.

We traveled to Gainesville to talk to him about a different story: A horse tranquilizer called xylazine he was finding in dead Floridians.

At the end of that interview, he told us, “We’ve had many deaths associated with N,N-Dimethylpentylone. It’s a curious drug. It has an effect on a human which can result in bizarre behavior, aggression. We’ve seen it associated with homicides and suicides.”

We spent the next six months looking into it.

N,N-Dimethylpentylone is a cathinone, a class of synthetic stimulant. It’s a new kind of bath salt.

The Center for Forensic Science Research & Education, also known as the CFSRE, found that more and more often, dealers are passing this substance off to unsuspecting buyers as ecstasy or molly.

But it’s not MDMA like the users probably expect.

“It is unlikely that you are going to ingest molly, it's likely going to be a substitute – something that's far more toxic, far more potent, and something that can lead to death,” Goldberger said.

Maybe you, or someone you know, took molly at a music festival in Tampa a year ago. And then, this year, they go to the same music festival and buy molly from the same person.

That substance could be something totally different. And the odds are good it’s going to be N,N-Dimethylpentylone.

“These new cathinones are far more toxic and, subsequently, lethal in humans than MDMA, or ecstasy, or molly,” Goldberger said. “In some people, we see behaviors that are directly related to the death of the individual. So, we've seen a fairly high prevalence rate of these types of drugs in homicides and suicides, and even in motor vehicle crashes.”