‘A matter of life and death’: As fentanyl grips parts of the community, here’s how you can keep your family safe

SPOKANE, Wash.– Fentanyl has become a growing problem in the Inland Northwest and as one suspected drug ring was busted, there are new clues as to how it’s moving in.

The suspected drug ring is based out of Tacoma but moves drugs through eastern Washington and North Idaho on I-90. Federal agents said the suspected drug ring is connected to the death of a high school freshman who died last spring.

Sergent Jess Stennett works to fight the issue in the area and sees the deadly drug’s grip on the community.

“On one side, a mix of fentanyl that might be suitable and won’t kill someone but over here they made it a little too hot and it could end up killing someone,” Stennett said.

The most concerning thing is there are kids who are exposed to it at a young age and don’t know better.

Federal Court documents show that social media helped investigators connect a 15-year-old’s death to some of the suppliers in the region.

“Some kids see this benign-looking blue pill as something they would get out of someone’s medicine cabinet. That’s not the case,” Stennett said.

He said parents need to know social media is more than a place for kids to connect with their friends.

“Are you showing your kids how to be something bigger than yourself and give back? Or are you filling your kids’ heads with all kinds of things of how to be cool?” said Peer Support Counselor at Compassion Addiction Treatment Nichole Mitchell.

Mitchell was one of the people who had been gripped by the drug.

“I don’t think people realize the pull it has on your mental, emotional and physical body,” Mitchell said.

Like many others, Mitchell said her addiction started when she got into a motorcycle accident.

“I got addicted to opiates and I couldn’t get the pills I wanted, the pills kept getting stronger, so it turned into heroin,” Mitchell said.

Now that Mitchell has turned her life around, she’s advocating for the people who are facing the same struggles she once had.

“When you take a mexi or fentanyl pill, you really don’t know how much fentanyl is in there,” Mitchell said.

“Are you showing your kids how to be something bigger than yourself and give back? Or are you filling your kids’ heads with all kinds of things of how to be cool?” Mitchell said.

If you are battling addiction and need help, you are not alone. The American Addiction Centers offer free and confidential guidance to those suffering from addiction. The addiction hotline is (866) 460-6405. 

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