HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - A deadly combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and more fentanyl in the hands of young people has the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) concerned.
Eighteen-year-old Brooke Mitchell was headstrong, brilliant and a great friend, but her life was cut short in 2017 due to drugs.
Her mother, Diana Mitchell, said when she realized her daughter was struggling with an addiction, she had a hard time finding her help because Brooke was not an adult.
Diana said says Brooke went out with a friend who she was trying to stay away from.
She said Brooke thought she was doing a line of heroin, but she was actually taking a combination of fentanyl, molly and cocaine.
Diana said the combination caused a massive heart attack and said the people Brooke was with drove around with her in the car for more than two hours before taking her to the hospital.
She said her daughter was brain dead.
“You see your child born, and then you see your child die. No parent should ever have to deal with that,” said Diana Mitchell.
Diana is now fighting for change and wants people talking about this issue that's killing so many young people.
She said there needs to be more resources, money and help for those suffering.
The DEA reports fatal overdoses are up 30% in the state of Virginia from 2019 to 2020, and officials said it is even higher in Hampton Roads with a 38% increase.
Officials said the vast majority of deaths are due to fentanyl.
They say too many young people are ordering fake pills online, not realizing there is fentanyl in them.
“Everyone is on various social media applications on the phone. You could purchase these drugs with a couple of touches of an icon on your phone,” said Jared Forget, the DEA Washington Division Special Agent in Charge.
Forget said criminals are turning to the internet and are using all kinds of social media to sell their product.
He said teens think they are ordering Adderall, Oxy 30, Xanax or Percocets, but they are really ordering drugs with fentanyl inside.
“The cartels are actually marketing these drugs, these counterfeit drugs, to make them look like they’re sort of safe, but in fact when the young people are ordering these drugs, they’re being tricked or duped into taking a harder drug.”
The DEA said the number of fentanyl-involved deaths in Washington, D.C.; Maryland; and Virginia have all more than doubled from 2019 to 2020, according to data from each state’s public health department.
They said fentanyl-involved deaths now make up almost 90% of all drug overdose deaths recorded in the tri-state area.
They said the synthetic opioid played a part in killing more than 5,200 residents across D.C.; Marylan; and Virginia in 2020 compared to approximately 4,300 in 2019.
Click here for more information from the DEA.