Put aside the pranks and haunted houses of Halloween, this October gave us something real to fear. A new drug, known as “pink heroin,” or simply, “pink,” popped out of the shadows of the “dark web” and is killing people all over America.

Pink, also known as U-47700, is a chemically synthesized, powerful opioid. It can be up to eight times as strong as heroin. Pink heroin contains the powerful opioid fentanyl. Its production process leaves the final product with a pinkish hue.

The drug killed two 13-year-old boys in Park City, Utah, a 24-year-old man in Ashburn, Virginia, two people in Lorain County, Ohio, one person in Falconer, New York, and eight people in Florida. Pink is also suspected in two more deaths in Cuyahoga County, Ohio and others in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. According to some reports, in the past year, U-47700 attributed to as many as 80 deaths nationwide.

Park City Police Chief, Wade Carpenter, told NBC News, “This stuff is so powerful that if you touch it, you could go into cardiac arrest.”

Part of what makes pink so dangerous is that it can overpower the effects of naloxone, the drug administered by emergency personnel to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose. Emergency technicians may need to use two or more doses of naloxone to stop the effects of pink. This resistance to naloxone occurs with straight fentanyl as well, but to a much higher degree. Some emergency responders report using up to eight doses of naloxone to stop the effects of a fentanyl overdose. 

Pink heroin is everywhere.

This rash of overdoses, occurring in such a large variety of locations, is alarming. How is this same deadly substance showing up in states on the east coast, the Midwest, and the South and the mountain west regions? Where do people get it?

They get it from the same place people order anything these days—the internet.

The two boys who died from overdoses of pink in Utah got it through online means, as did the man from Virginia, and authorities suspect others did the same thing.

You can find anything online regardless of legality. You just have to know where to look. Just as if you were looking for something illegal on the street you might need go down some dark alley to find the black market, looking for something illegal online could lead you to the shadiest corners of the world wide web, to the aptly named “dark web.”

The dark web is a section of the internet you can only access through certain secured access points and requires special software. One such dark web site, Silk Road, gained fame in 2013 when authorities shut it down and arrested its founder, Ross William Ulbrict. Ulbrict, known online by the handle “Dread Pirate Roberts” was convicted of seven charges, including computer hacking, conspiracy to traffic fraudulent identity documents, conspiracy to traffic narcotics, and money laundering. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Selling Drugs Online

During Ulbrict’s trial, a heroin dealer who did business on Silk Road testified for the prosecution. Michael Duch, a 40-year-old heroin dealer who went by the online handle “Deezletime,” plead guilty to narcotics trafficking and hoped cooperating with prosecutors would earn him leniency on his sentencing. The information Duch revealed during his testimony showed how easily he trafficked drugs online.

Duch said he had never sold drugs before, but the “safety and anonymity” provided by Silk Road convinced him it to take the risk.

“I saw the relative ease that came with it. It seemed like something I could get away with,” Duch said.

Duch told the court that during a six-month period he filled over 2,400 heroin orders on Silk Road, which included a brand of heroin called “murder.” He reported making between $60,000 and $70,000 each of those months. With the transactions handled online, Duch could sell heroin from his location in New York, to customers all over the country.

“Someone out in Utah would be able to get heroin. The Silk Road made heroin available to them,” Duch said. The recent overdose deaths in Utah make this statement nearly prophetic and absolutely chilling.

Online Drug Markets Still Exist

Just one month after the Federal Bureau of Investigation shut down Silk Road, Silk Road 2.0 came online to take its place. It was subsequently shut down as well. However, Silk Road was just the one site that got busted, clearly others persisted as evidenced by the recent spike in people buying pink online. In fact, Duch mentioned three other Dark Web sites by name at the Ulbrict trial: Atlantis, Black Market, and Reloaded. A simple google search for “buying heroin online” delivers multiple articles with detailed instructions of how to gain access to new and/or alternate versions of sites like the former Silk Road.

If you’re worried someone you know might be looking for a convenient way to buy drugs, especially opioids, don’t forget about this increasingly common purchasing method. When the stakes are life or death, mysterious online purchases or unexpected deliveries should not go ignored. Black market purchases of pink heroin should always raise red flags.

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Pink Alert – The Dangers of Buying Drugs Online