PARK CITY — Law enforcement officials are warning parents that nearly two years after two boys overdosed in the same weekend on a dangerous synthetic opioid, juveniles in the Park City area are again getting drugs shipped to them through the mail.
A community alert sent out Friday advised parents that controlled substances and synthetic controlled substances have been purchased online via the darknet — an encrypted network accessible through specialty browsers — and mailed to young people in Park City.
Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson said her office received details about the drug shipments Friday and began immediately screening charges against multiple juveniles, noting that "one of the individuals involved in the tragedies of 2016 is also involved in procuring and receiving these 2018 shipments."
In September 2016, Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth, both 13, died from acute drug intoxication from a synthetic opioid purchased online from China and mailed to the resort town. The deaths devastated the community.
As prosecutors began reviewing the case for potential charges, Olson said she issued the alert in order to warn Park City families. She confirmed Friday that multiple shipments of drugs from overseas have been intercepted in Park City this summer, but it is unknown what additional substances may have been distributed in the area.
"As a parent and a member of this community, we were all deeply affected by the tragedies of 2016. And to have the same fact pattern reappear, I felt it was incumbent upon us — myself, the sheriff, the police chief — to alert the community so that they could watch their children and talk to them so that we didn't have another tragedy," Olson said.
Olson said that the drugs involved are "different controlled substances and synthetic controlled substances," but they did not include U-47700, known as "pink" or "pinky," which killed the two Treasure Mountain Junior High classmates in 2016.
At the time of Ryan and Grant's deaths, U-47700 was not an illegal substance. Less than a month later, the highly potent and fast-acting opiate was classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States, meaning it is a substance with no known medical benefit.
Olson said she wants parents to know that similarly dangerous substances are again in their community. She urged them to notify police about anything suspicious.
"I want them to be able to be aware of suspicious packages that were not ordered by the parents, or that are addressed to, say, their children's friends and being shipped to their house. I want parents to feel comfortable calling law enforcement and not touching or disposing of unknown materials themselves because they can be lethal," she said.
Search warrants from October 2016 detailed how two Park City teens purchased the drug on the darknet and received it in the mail before it made its way into Ryan and Grant's hands. One of those teens, age 16, was charged in juvenile court following the deaths and ultimately admitted to reckless endangerment, a class C misdemeanor. He was placed on probation in March 2017 and warned that, if he didn't comply, a 30-day sentence would be imposed.
Olson declined to comment on whether that 16-year-old is suspected in connection with the new case.
A Utah State Court official confirmed Friday that the 16-year-old has not been involved in any new felony cases since he was placed on probation, and that as of Friday, no new charges had been filed.
Olson said the juveniles involved in the new drug case "will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."