This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Concerned by an "imminent threat" to public safety, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration will temporarily classify the synthetic opioid linked to the death of two Park City boys as an illegal drug.
U-47700, known as "pink" or "pinkie," will be listed on Monday as a Schedule 1 controlled substance the highest of five ranks used by the agency to classify "drugs with a high potential for abuse." Forty-six deaths in the U.S. have been linked to the opioid over the past two years, according to a DEA news release, including at least four in Utah.
The drug, generally manufactured overseas, is sold online in powder and tablet form. The DEA says because the production of the substance is unregulated "the identity, purity and quantity are unknown, creating a 'Russian Roulette' scenario for any user."
Seaver and Ainsworth, friends who attended Treasure Mountain Junior High School, apparently got the opioid from a 15-year-old Park City boy accused of distributing it. The boy is charged in juvenile court with second-degree felony distribution of a controlled or counterfeit substance and misdemeanor reckless endangerment. The defendant has entered not guilty pleas and is scheduled for a hearing on Dec. 2.
According to a search warrant affidavit, on Sept. 13 the day that police announced Seaver and Ainsworth had died a teen girl told officers that she had helped the defendant and another teenage boy obtain "legal" drugs that were reportedly bought online. The girl told police that she had the packages sent to her house because her friends' mail was "screened for drugs by their parents," the warrant states, though the defendant was the one who ordered the package.
Sometime in August, the girl received a shipment from China, which contained "a clear bag with a white powder substance," she told police. She then apparently gave the substance to the two friends.
The drug has also been connected to 31 deaths in New York and 10 in North Carolina, the DEA release states. The emergency scheduling of the opioid lasts 24 months, with a possible 12-month extension at the end of that time, during which officials may permanently classify it.
"Emergency scheduling of dangerous drugs, such as U-47700, on a temporary basis," the release states, "is one of the most significant tools DEA can utilize to address the problems associated with deadly new street drugs."