'Whip-It' Canisters Found along Starr Co. Road Raises Concerns

3 years 2 weeks 15 minutes ago Thursday, February 22 2018 Feb 22, 2018 February 22, 2018 9:43 PM February 22, 2018 in News

ROMA – Abusing aerosol is a pervasive problem seen among young adults and teens. In Starr County, it’s become an extensive problem.

Drive up North Ebony Road and you might miss it, but if you stop and look around you might notice something shiny and scattered all over the road.

On the dusty, desolate road in Starr County, you’ll find signs of life – too many of them.

Only three vehicles passed as CHANNEL 5 NEWS was in the area. A man driving by noticed the light glimmering from silver canisters commonly referred to as “whip-its.”

“Yes, they’re thrown there, but I don’t know who throws them,” he said.

He doesn’t know what they’re used for.

In this area, it’s practically impossible to walk without stepping all over one of the canisters. You might think there’s a legitimate reason for them to be here. There isn’t.

Assistant Roma Police Chief Francisco Garcia explains they’re filled with nitrous oxide and they belong in the kitchen or in paintball guns.

He tells us this area is out of his jurisdiction. The city passed an ordinance to curb this type of abuse within its boundaries.

“Not any store can sell them and if they're going to sell them, they have to be to people over 18 years of age. It can't be to a juvenile. And also limiting the amount of containers they can sell at any one time,” said Garcia.

The city’s ordinance also says shops should keep track of how many they sell and who buys them. Those caught in possession of these products or paraphernalia can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.

Police officers are often concerned when a driver they pull over is found in possession of these products.

“One of the side effects is that they will pass out or blackout. It might only be for a couple of seconds but if they’re driving and using this they are likely to be involved in an accident,” said the assistant police chief.

It’s a problem that extends past Roma.

“Yes, that’s everywhere. I see them from Rio Grande City to over here and everywhere. But, I didn't know what it was about,” said the man driving along North Ebony Road.

The sheriff’s department can respond to incidents in the area. This is a short-term solution for Garcia.

“But in order for us to stop this, I think we need to go higher and prevent the manufacturers from abusing the sale of these,” said Garcia.

He wants it to lead to cleaner and safer roads.

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