Documents: Recent West Fargo overdose related to drugs bought on dark web

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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - We have uncovered new details surrounding a drug overdose in West Fargo that killed a 19-year-old and sent another teen to the hospital. In April, police found two men unconscious at an apartment building after being exposed to a large amount of fentanyl.

One was taken to the hospital and the other, Alex Hirn was found dead. New court documents obtained by Valley News Live show the drugs were delivered by mail and bought through the dark web.

Authorities say people in the Fargo-Moorhead community are buying illegal drugs online and it has led to multiple overdoses. Fargo Police Lt. Shannon Ruskizka says "A lot of these drugs, heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, those types of drugs have been ordered over the dark web to our community and it's people who live in our community who have ordered them." He says they started noticing the dark web after they saw more and more people overdosing and dying. "Drug dealing has been going on for years, maybe even decades, we just were not that aware of it."

23-year-old Steven Huston set up a test account on a dark web market place to show us what is for sale. He says, "It took me about four minutes to get to this point, four minutes." He doesn't buy drugs himself, but says anyone with internet access can. "This stuff is just so cheap that it's everywhere."

Huston says you can ship it right to your house and typically get it within two days. "They are selling 10 grams of fentanyl for $30.00 per gram and that's a lot of fentanyl to be going through the mail." You can also read reviews from people who have bought the drugs from the same seller.

Ruskizka says it is hard to catch the people selling these drugs online. "It's not attached to you in any other way than your online identity, which doesn't even have to be close to your real identity. You can make an online identity that's entirely different than who you are." Huston says, "The buyer is not really concerned about giving their address to them or anything, they are not going to call the police on you, and the seller is doesn't have to put their address on it."
Anonymous online shipping services make it even harder for law enforcement to catch people. When the package is delivered typically the mail carrier has no idea what is inside.

Huston says parents should not be afraid of the technology, but they should be aware about it. "It can't be a law enforcement issue anymore, that's what I think, I think it's got to be a public health issue." He says the problem is going to get worse, and the addiction problem in the community needs to be addressed.

For concerned parents, Lt. Ruskizka recommends checking their children's online history. He also says to keep in mind that the dark web is accessed through a separate browser that you should watch out for.