You’ve likely heard of fentanyl and that it’s a huge part of this country’s drug crisis, but to fully understand why it’s so deadly and why this country’s drug epidemic is worse than it’s ever been, you have to meet the parents of Alex Gertsch.
When the wind blows, there is both comfort and sadness for Dena and Shane Gertsch.
To speak about their son is agonizing, but they are enduring in order to save others.
Alex, 25, was a talented musician, a creative and kind soul.
“He had a smile that would light up a room and just kind, compassionate…,” Shane cried.
Right there, during the interview, Dena plugs in the same codes and up pop the pushers.
That was only part of what they learned. The rest came after the autopsy.
In the DEA’s secret lab, forensic chemist Dean Kirby said fentanyl is so potent and inexpensive, counterfeiters mix it in place of other, more expensive drugs. Touching it, breathing it or ingesting a minuscule amount can kill you.
“It takes two milligrams enough to kill a person, especially someone who’s not tolerant in any way to taking those kinds of medications, so that’s very small compared to a dosage of let’s say heroin,” he said.
“You in stock with roofing tar?”
It’s likely Alex never knew what he was getting.
The Gertschs ask the obvious question: Why?
“There seems like sometimes common sense should come into play,” Shane said. “If there are all of these packages coming in from China with a similar look, shape and feel, maybe that’s where we make an exception.”
“They will invest the money for algorithms and for data mining to market and sell for profit. What about using some of that same technology or same focus to help with social change,” Shane said.
“Sometimes we think that it’s Alex, like he’s trying to send us a message,” Dena shared.
“If he’s out there watching us, he wouldn’t want us to be sad every day — it’s hard not to,” Shane said. “But he would want us to do what we can to potentially, hopefully help some other families from going through what we are going through.”
Dena and Shane say the one bright spot in their story is the DEA’s fusion task force. Investigators tracked down that dealer named Stixx and he now faces 20 years in prison. But no matter what happens to him, nothing will ease the pain of losing their one and only child, Alex.