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CMU student tied to drug probe

DEA links online supplier to large-scale federal case

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

By Jonathan D. Silver, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Update: The charges against Mr. Parraway were withdrawn in               September 2003.

A Carnegie Mellon University student arrested recently at Pittsburgh International Airport for drug possession has become embroiled in what court papers describe as a "large-scale" federal drug investigation spanning the nation.

An attorney for 20-year-old Mark Parraway, however, said the arrest could be a "very big foul-up" and claimed his client was transporting legal substances as part of a legitimate business.

A preliminary hearing yesterday for Parraway before North Fayette District Justice Anthony Saveikis was postponed until Sept. 8. Assistant District Attorney Ken Fryncko requested the delay to give Allegheny County's Crime Lab time to analyze the substances seized from Parraway's luggage July 17.

Parraway was on the way to visit his grandparents in Raleigh, N.C., when he was stopped after a Transportation Security Administration employee screening checked baggage found a white powder in Parraway's bag that burned her hand.

Allegheny County police arrested Parraway at the airport after the powder tested positive for the drug known as Ecstasy.

A further search of Parraway's luggage yielded a plastic bag weighing 790 grams containing suspected Ecstasy, according to a field test by a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

Further field tests by that agent showed several other bags contained a total of 10 grams of suspected cocaine, and a third bag with "alien head markings" contained 1 gram of suspected methamphetamine.

Also confiscated were several empty baggies and a digital scale.

Police charged Parraway with three counts of drug possession, two counts of drug possession with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.

After the arrest, detectives obtained a search warrant for Parraway's Theta Xi fraternity house on Morewood Avenue in Oakland.

They said they seized three bottles of unknown pills, a laptop computer, two computer towers and miscellaneous paperwork.

The affidavit supporting the request for a search warrant cited a DEA chemist as saying "he is aware of a large-scale nationwide investigation involving one of the companies that Parraway admitted was his source of supply."

That company is not named in court documents.

Parraway told police that through an online company, Ennuitech, he buys large quantities of a substance called dextromethorphan, repackages it and sells it.

"Our position is this is legitimate business," Parraway's attorney, William Krzton, said. "At the end of the day, this could be a very big foul-up."

Krzton was short on details about Parraway's clients and suppliers, but said of the substances in Parraway's bag:

"They test positive under field-test conditions. They will not test positive under laboratory conditions."

Parraway's bag contained Express Mail labels sent from Ennuitech to several out-of-town addresses, including one in Bakersfield, Calif., where there had been "methamphetamine activity" in the past, according to the search warrant affidavit.

Parraway, who was enrolled at Carnegie Mellon in the spring but has not yet signed up for the fall semester, is being held in the Allegheny County Jail on $25,000 straight bond.


Jonathan D. Silver can be reached at jsilver@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1962.

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