Arizona kids and adults are finding unique ways to buy and sell drugs using the "deep web," but drug-free advocates say there is an easy way to reduce the chances a child will ever start using illegal substances.
"One of the key messages for parents is that you've got to include this talk with your kids," said Shelly Mowrey, the Senior Director of Programs and Communication at Drug Free AZ.
"Summer time is the time when kids tend to experiment more with drugs," she said. "This has got to be on your radar screen," she added.
Mowrey said kids are 50 percent less likely to use drugs if parents talk to them about the dangers early and often.
Cat Forrey says the pain of losing her son to bath salts, a type of synthetic drug, has been paralyzing.
"It's hard when you've practiced trying not to look back," she said.
Forrey lives in Prescott, where she had been fixing up her home with her son Calvin's help. The two loved using tools, and they were hoping to perfect the doors on her kitchen cabinets together before he died.
"We loved tools. We loved our power tools," she said, with a big grin on her face.
Calvin, 27, passed away during the project in 2012.
The cabinets are still unfinished.
"I can't finish any of the things that we started," said Forrey. She said she cannot even look at a power tool without getting emotional.
"I never ever could've imagined the phone call I got," she said, explaining the moment she learned her son was dying in the hospital after consuming too many drugs.
Forrey said Calvin's personality changed dramatically during the last few years of his life. She said his bedroom had become extremely disheveled, and he was obsessed with the idea that people were looking into his bedroom window with lights.
"It was difficult, because I couldn't convince him…that it wasn't true," she remembered.
Forrey said her son thought soldiers wearing night vision goggles were chasing him at times.
She said he had a demonic look in his eyes.
"When he looked up at me – the gaunt eyes. I could see cuts and burns, and he looked up at me and said, ‘yeah, I'm back on bath salts,'" she said, explaining the first time she felt scared of her only son.
Although Forrey said her son bought some of his drugs at small shops in Prescott, he also found ways to order them online.
She said she thinks he had ordered some drugs from Poland and Barbados, but he would try to delete the history on her computer so she wouldn't see what he had done.
She eventually learned he sometimes would have them delivered to a local hotel to avoid being discovered.
"He would tell the desk clerk that his friend is coming to town…and he's going to stay there, and he needs a package that's going to be delivered there," she explained. "Then, Cal would go in when he knew the stuff had arrived…and tell them the guy wasn't going to make it in, so he has to pick up the package," she said.
LOSING HIS MIND
Forrey said her son eventually consumed so many drugs, he lost his mind.
When police found him, he was naked and had driven someone's truck into a tree at a campsite near Prescott.
The drug "cooks you inside out," said Forrey. "He had to have been burning up. He thought everyone was after him."
"He was taking handfuls of the dirt and pine needles and eating it," she said. "He had completely lost his mind."
As Forrey looks back, she tries to focus on all the wonderful memories she had with her only child. He loved fishing and camping, she said. He loved learning new things and was always teaching me, she said.
She hopes other parents notice the warning signs before it is too late.
Forrey said she observed many changes in her son before he died. Aside from his messy bedroom, his diet became extreme, she said. He would eat excessive amounts of sugary foods followed by large amounts of salty items.
THE DARK NET
An Indiana mother noticed the warning signs in her son before drugs were ever delivered to her home.
She did not want to be identified, but said she noticed her son was very excited about getting the mail from the mail box.
"I was just going to check the mail – just going to check the mail," she recalled he would say. "He doesn't typically want to check the mail all the time.
She said she intercepted the mail when it came and found a cartoon DVD had been mailed to her son.
"I lifted the DVD out of the case, and then there was nothing there," she said. "So I bent the case backwards so the binding came away from the case, and that's when the package slipped out."
She said she turned her son into the police when she discovered it was the drug Ecstasy.
"My main concern was doing everything I could do to save his life," she cried. "I knew I couldn't do it on my own."
According to police paperwork, he used a special program to hide identifying information about himself and his computer. Then he anonymously gained access to an underground drug marketplace on the
Dark Net, called Silk Road.
According to a Hamilton County Indiana search warrant, he told police that "purchases are made on this web site using an Internet based, untraceable currency called Bit Coins."
"This has got to be on your radar screen," said Mowrey.
"Parents are first when it comes to prime defense against this with their kids…so we gotta have the parents in there first," she said.