ST. GEORGE — Toxicology tests released Thursday confirm two 13-year-old Utah boys who died in September overdosed on a synthetic drug available online that is commonly known as “pink.”
“The Utah Medical Examiner’s Office has determined the cause of death for both 13-year-old boys, Ryan Ainsworth and Grant Seaver, to be acute drug intoxication of U-47700, the synthetic opioid known as ‘pink,'” Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter said in a statement Thursday.
The two Park City boys were found dead separately in their respective homes by their parents in September within 48 hours of each other.
After receiving anonymous tips and finding conversations on the boys’ social media accounts about U-47700 – a new generation of opioid drugs being synthesized in labs oversees – investigators began focusing on the drug as a possible cause of death.
Police and school officials immediately began warning Utahns about the synthetic opioid, calling it an “extremely dangerous drug” and urging parents, especially, not to let children come into contact with it.
The deadly drug made its way to the Park City teens in a package shipped from Shanghai, China, with “a clear bag containing a white powder substance” inside after two other teens ordered the then legal drug online and had it mailed to a friend’s house, according to search warrants unsealed in October.
As the investigation unfolds, one 15-year-old Park City boy has been charged in 3rd District Juvenile Court in Summit County with second-degree felony distribution of a controlled or counterfeit substance, and a class A misdemeanor for reckless endangerment.
The 15-year-old boy charged “is responsible for ordering the controlled substance or controlled substance analog from the internet, specifically the ‘dark web,'” according to the warrant.
When the drugs arrived, the 15-year-old allegedly distributed some of the drugs to other juveniles.
The synthetic opioid is growing in popularity with recreational drug users throughout the United States and is readily available for purchase on the internet – primarily from Chinese suppliers, according to the Utah Statewide Information & Analysis Center, a division of the state Department of Public Safety.
Nearly eight times more potent than morphine, U-47700 comes in various forms that can be injected, snorted or taken orally, and is connected to at least 50 deaths nationwide.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice issued a notice of intent Sept. 7 for the temporary placement of U-47700 into schedule I controlled substances. The DEA’s motion took effect Oct. 7, classifying U-47700 among other addictive drugs like heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
It is known that the substance is extremely toxic, even in small doses, Carpenter said, adding that anyone who believes they have encountered the drug should contact law enforcement immediately and not touch the substance with bare hands.
“Exposure to U-47700 by inhalation or contact with skin can be fatal,” police said Thursday.
Police reminded parents to look for the following signs of synthetic opioid U-47700 in their own homes:
- White powder
- Can also come in liquid form; watch for dropper bottles and nasal inhalers
- Unmarked “stealth” delivery boxes – in some cases, these may have handwritten labels
- Boxes, vials or plastic baggies labeled “Not for Human Consumption” or “For Research Purposes Only”
- Pay attention to any packages being shipped to your house, especially anything shipped from Asian countries
This report is based on preliminary information provided by emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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