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Amid national ‘drug threat,’ mother warns about fentanyl dangers after son’s overdose

PLAINFIELD, Ind. – National forensic experts are now calling the opioid threat “unprecedented”.

That’s because they say the danger is greater than ever for both addicts and everyone else. In a release, the American Association of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD), states that already this year, American crime labs have seen a 54 percent increase in fentanyl cases.

Deena Jackson of Plainfield isn’t surprised crime lab directors are now warning people to pay closer attention to recognize and avoid fentanyl and carfentanil.

She was devastated to learn fentanyl killed her son in just seconds and could’ve killed her too had she gotten close enough to touch any of it.

“He’s home now,” said Jackson. “Not the way I want him to be, but he’s back home now.”

Just days ago, on what would’ve been Daniel Jackson’s 24th birthday, Jackson placed his ashes on a shelf.

“They said he died instantly or within three seconds of using,” said Jackson.

On July 3rd, Jackson found her only child inside his bedroom dead from an overdose.

“The toxicology report came back and it was fentanyl,” said Jackson. “I couldn’t have saved him. The detectives said I probably couldn’t have saved him even if I was standing right there when he used.”

Jackson says detectives told her Daniel, like so many other heroin users recently, may have thought he was buying heroin. When he tried to take a typical dose, he injected fentanyl instead.

Fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than heroin. Had Jackson even touched her son’s clothing or anything in the room with fentanyl, she could’ve overdosed too.

“I was angry,” said Jackson. “Why would you sell poison knowing you could potentially kill somebody?”

It’s a question first responders and forensic experts wrestle with now more than ever.

According to the ASCLD, the following crime lab statistics show how much the opioid problem has grown, particularly with fentanyl and carfentanil.

  • In the first six months of 2017, there was a 19% increase in opioid submissions to crime labs as compared to all of 2016
  • In 2016, there were over 22 different types of fentanyl (a powerful opioid pain medication) identified in crime labs
  • 2017 has seen a 54% increase in fentanyl cases submitted to crime labs
  • Between 2012 and 2016, laboratories have witnessed a 6000% increase in fentanyl cases. This increase corresponds directly with the overdose deaths being seen nationwide.
  • Case backlogs have increased by roughly 28% in the last year due to the increasing case submissions, case complexity and danger of the drugs now being seized by law enforcement

At the same time, first responders work to avoid overdosing at traffic stops or while responding to heartbreaking calls like the one Jackson made four months ago.

“You killed two people that day because my life will never be the same,” said Jackson. “He was my life.”

Now she hopes to help track down and stop her son’s dealer. Jackson wants fewer parents left with just an urn and walls of photos, instead of their child.

“I would like for somebody to come forward,” said Jackson. “I know somebody knows who Danny bought these drugs from. Somebody knows."

Crime lab directors warn drugs are often packaged, transported and used with common household items.

They warn people who even suspect a family member is using opioids to avoid handling any of their items that could hold the dangerous drugs.