On June 14, 2018, a 28-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan, pleaded guilty to willfully causing the distribution of a controlled substance. The now-convicted Grand Rapids man, Jay Rickert, had helped a female acquaintance obtain DMT from a supplier on the internet. Rickert’s friend later fatally overdosed on what federal investigators later identified as fentanyl. The supplier had seemingly shipped Rickert’s friend the wrong drug.
The case began in early 2015 after the police had received a phone call from Rickert. He had called 911 and asked the police to conduct a welfare check on one of his “closest friends.” He met this person at AmeriCorps and developed a close friendship with her. According to information Rickert was Skyping with his friend Lauren Meyer as she, for the first time, used 5-MeO-DMT, a methoxylated derivative of dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
He said that during the session, Meyer had fallen out of her chair and had stopped communicating with him. He said that this did not concern him at the time because he knew she had likely started tripping. He later explained that he knew that, from experience, falling down on psychedelic substances was not uncommon. As time passed, Rickert’s concern for Meyer’s health had increased. He made several unsuccessful attempts to reach her while looking up any possible health issues that DMT could have caused. He said he had advised her to avoid anything that interacted with MAOIs. He knew that she had used a nasal inhaler at some point, though.
Meyer had died before arriving to the hospital. The police searched her room and found a scale and other drug-related material. They discovered an open chat window with Rickert on her computer screen, along with a browser tab open to a site filled with information about DMT. The police later interrogated Rickert who said that he had tripped frequently in the past and that Meyer had wanted to trip as well. He denied any knowledge regarding the source of Meyer’s “DMT.” Rickert believed his friend had died due to an interaction between the nasal inhaler and Syrian Rue.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and Meyer’s family had learned, though, that the overdose was a result of fentanyl intoxication. A series of recorded conversations between Meyer’s friends and Rickert ensued. He refused to tell them where he had obtained the DMT. He acknowledged that he had played a role in the ordeal, though. The DEA later read text messages between Rickert and his friends that revealed that Rickert had sourced the drugs from the internet. He never revealed anything further.
Meyer’s family later called the police after a suspicious letter containing white powder had arrived at their house via the postal service. A DEA lab identified the powder as 0.06 grams of fentanyl hydrochloride that the supplier had mailed to Meyer as a free sample. The name on the envelope was not the name of anyone in the Meyer’s household. The name did match a name Rickert had given to Meyer’s after asking for her address via text message. “Keep an eye out for Regina in your incoming mail,” he said, followed by the name of a song performed by an artist with the same first name.
The DEA concluded that Meyer had mistakenly received fentanyl in mail. They also concluded that Rickert had purchased “DMT” for Meyer through a supplier on the internet. A United States Marshal took Rickert into custody. Years after the overdose, he admitted the DEA had accurately accused him of using the internet to purchase, inadvertently, the fentanyl that killed his friend.
The date for his sentencing hearing has not yet been established.