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'It's a poisoning': Seattle mothers who have lost loved ones to overdoses fighting the growing drug crisis

DEA laboratory tests revealed six out of 10 fake prescription pills found on the streets, are laced with a deadly dose of fentanyl.

SEATTLE — As communities across the nation grapple with a surge in opioid overdose deaths, a growing number of families are left devastated by the sudden loss of their loved ones. 

And many are fighting for change.

"You say, 'overdose', and it seems to indicate that someone took too much. But that can't be further from the truth," Laura Lynch said. "It's a poisoning."

Lynch's daughter Brillion died from fentanyl poisoning six days after her 18th birthday. She bought what she thought was Percocet from a dealer via Instagram at a Redmond skate park on April 3, 2021. She came home feeling tired and irritable. Her mom told her she should take a nap.

"And then when I went to check on her, she was gone," Lynch said. The pain is still too difficult to bare. "She died from only half of a pill."

That is the most alarming revelation among parents who have lost a loved one from fentanyl-related poisoning. The potency of the drug they may be unknowingly ingesting is increasingly high. 

DEA laboratory tests revealed six out of 10 fake prescription pills found on the streets, are laced with a deadly dose of fentanyl. One hundred times more powerful than morphine, just a small pinch hidden inside a seemingly common painkiller, can cause a fatal overdose.

Fentanyl was developed to treat intense pain from ailments like cancer. Its use has now exploded, making it the deadliest drug in the nation according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

"This is the most serious threat that we face," said Jacob Galvan, acting special agent in charge of the DEA Seattle Field Division. "And I've been on with the DEA for 25 years."

Galvan said the problem begins in China, where ingredients are sent to Mexico, where opioid pills are being manufactured to be sent up the west coast. 

"All they care about is making money," Galvan said. "They want to drive addiction. The more people that can get addicted, the more drugs that they can sell. And that's all they care about. They don't care who they harm. They don't care who they kill."

Last year the DEA's Northwest Division seized 8.9 million deadly doses of fentanyl. That's enough to kill every single person living in the state of Washington.

The DEA is trying to alert the public about the surge in deadly drugs through its 'One Pill Can Kill' campaign. 

Jasmine Robinson's son, Jaylen, 21, died from an overdose in 2021. 

"My son got a pill on Snapchat," Robinson said. "He thought it was a Percocet."

"He didn't know it, but the pill was straight fentanyl," Robinson said. "That was the only thing in the system. And it was it was like a quarter of the pill that killed him And he was 6 feet, 285 pounds."

And Carol Schweigert lost her son Trey, 27, after an accidental overdose in a similar way. He thought he was taking the pain reliever Percocet because of a recent injury. He did not realize the pill was laced with fentanyl.

"I'd personally like to see a statewide mandated awareness campaign," Schweigert said. "For any parents listening; start those conversations early."'

WATCH: Full interview with Seattle mothers affected by fentanyl crisis

Schweigert points to an awareness campaign called Song for Charlie, as a great resource for parents to learn about fake pills.

In the rare case, some parents receive justice. The drug dealer who gave Trey Schweigert the pill was arrested and sentenced to prison.

Lynch recently saw Brillion's dealer sentenced to 20 months in prison for drug possession and distribution. 

But prosecutors said these cases are difficult to prove.

"It should be homicide," Lynch said. 

As the number of fentanyl-related deaths surges, nothing can ease the pain of a parent who has lost a child. They can only hope other parents hear the warning.

"I want to help another family not go through what we're going through," Lynch said. "I have to do something."

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