During one week in October, courts in Ohio sentenced three individuals to prison for opioid distribution that resulted in the death of at least one person. Among those sentenced was a 28-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who had helped a friend out by ordering her DMT. The drug vendor mistakenly mailed the girl a bag full of fentanyl powder. Not knowing the bag contained fentanyl, the girl ingested far too much and fatally overdosed in her bedroom.
According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa, two out of three of the recently sentenced defendants in the overdose cases were drug dealers or had intentionally sold one of their customers heroin or fentanyl. The third, Jay Rickert, the 28-year-old Michigan resident, had only ordered DMT and a digital scale for one of his friends who had been living at her parents house in Dubuque, Ohio. The friend had no experience with darkweb markets and had asked Rickert to order some DMT from a vendor he had used in the past to get DMT and other psychedelic substances for himself. Rickert did what his friend had asked and, over a series of text messages, explained the importance of set and setting; properly heating the pipe; properly dosing as to avoid wasting DMT; and how to prevent the possible dangerous outcomes associated with dropping the bowl once the DMT kicked in.
Unbeknownst to Rickert and to Rickert’s friend, someone had mistakenly shipped a package of fentanyl to Rickert’s friend’s address. Although Rickert is guilty of supplying drugs that ultimately killed his friend, someone else was at fault for the mix up between the two substances. It could have been the darkweb vendor who had made a mistake on the single shipment; Rickert had used the vendor in the past and had a good experience with the vendor for DMT, mescaline, and other psychedelic compounds. It could have been the vendor’s suppliers who had, when shipping bulk products to the vendor, mislabelled containers of various substances. If this were the case, however, if this had happened, there would likely have been a significant number of fatal overdoses throughout the United States. It could have happened and investigators could have simply treated the deaths as standard fentanyl overdoses. And finally, it is possible that the vendor’s shipper or shippers had mistakenly mailed the girl fentanyl instead of DMT.
The vendor had been keeping customer records, court documents revealed; months after the friend had passed away, her parents called the police about a suspicious package that had arrived in the mail. The package, they explained to the police before federal investigators had arrived at the house, contained a white powder and an insert describing the white powder as a free sample of a new batch of fentanyl the vendor had recently received. As far as the darkweb drug vendor knew, he had previously sold fentanyl to a customer who had wanted fentanyl or had ordered fentanyl in the past. Unless, of course, the vendor shipped fentanyl to all customers who had not ordered in a month or two.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the package of fentanyl was what had set the investigators towards Rickert as the supplier of the drugs that had killed the Ohio woman. After she had overdosed, Rickert called the police to conduct a welfare check on his friend; they had been Skyping while waiting for the DMT to kick in, chat logs from the friend’s computer revealed. The fact that they were even able to Skype after she had vaped DMT should have alerted Rickert that perhaps something was wrong. He only suspected something bad had happened after his friend had fallen out of her chair and had not responded to him in an hour or more.
An Ohio court considered Rickert’s lack of intent in providing his friend with fentanyl. He was sentenced to only 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to causing the distribution of a controlled substance. The Attorney’s Office used the sentences as an opportunity to warn the public about the dangers of buying drugs in a world where the war on drugs contributed to Rickert’s inability to get DMT from a more reliable supplier. “These cases demonstrate that those buying and using drugs may not know what they are getting,” a press release stated. “Either way, the use of an opioid too often ends with death because a drug user does not know what kind of drug they are taking or how dangerous it is.”