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Counterfeit fentanyl rips apart more local lives

February 14, 2022

By Mike Weland

Jeremy Gross
A brother concerned for his sister's welfare called Boundary County dispatch for help at about 12:15 p.m. Thursday, reporting that her boyfriend, not welcome, was in her home at the Jenny Lane Apartments and refusing to leave. Assistant Bonners Ferry Police Chief Marty Ryan and Chief Brian Zimmerman responded, and on arrival, Ryan met the man, who told him that he'd been inside to clean out drugs and paraphernalia she may have had when he heard someone trying to force open the front door, which he'd locked. His sister, he said, had a terrible drug habit she was fighting to overcome, fed by the man he suspected was now in her apartment.

When the attempt at the door stopped, he said, he went out and around the building, where he saw a man he suspected to be Jeremy Gross, 33, Bonners Ferry, climbing over the balcony rail of the second floor apartment and in through the unlocked sliding door.

Ryan and Zimmerman made entrance to the apartment through the front door, now unlocked, identified themselves and called out but received no answer, eliciting instead frantic activity in a back bedroom down the hall. Ryan, seeing a man in the room furtively tossing bedcovers, called Gross out by name, telling him to come out. Sweating profusely and showing signs clear signs of substance abuse, Gross complied, followed by an odor now too familiar to local emergency responders, the unmistakable reek of fumes from Mexi-pills, or blues, being smoked.

Still concerned that this might be a burglary, Ryan entered the room to make sure no one else was in the apartment and to secure any weapons or evidence. He was almost immediately overwhelmed by the reeking odor.

He backed out of the room, advised Gross of his rights. Gross admitted using drugs, but denied using fentanyl. After a brief discussion, during which Gross told Zimmerman there would be pills in the room, Ryan returned for a closer inspection and found five Mexi-pills and a "tooter," or pipe used to smoke the illicit fentanyl.

Nearly overwhelmed yet again by the fumes, Ryan again retreated to the living room just as the the phone rang; Gross's girlfriend, who had gone to her mother's home seeking help for her addiction. She spoke briefly with Ryan, telling him that not only was Gross allowed in the apartment, but that he lived there, standing up for him.

Ryan explained to her what he'd found and informed her that Gross was under arrest.

As they exited the apartment, the brother pointed out a snow bank where he said he'd thrown a pill he found on the floor while in his sister's apartment. He'd picked it up to get it out of the apartment, he said, but tossed for fear it might make him sick.

On the way to jail, Gross admitted to having purchased 15 pills the day before and said that he'd delivered them to his girlfriend's home, meaning to dole them out to her to "wean her off." They'd had an argument, he said, and she'd left to go to her mother's.

He was there today, he said, on his lunch break. Finding the door locked, he'd assumed she had locked it, so he went out back and climbed the balcony. Finding the apartment empty, he decided to smoke some of the pills, all that were left, he said, from the day before. He'd been smoking, he said, as the officers came in.

Ryan later spoke again to Gross's girlfriend, and she was very open about her addiction to fentanyl. It was, she told him, the worst addiction she'd ever experienced, that she was scheduled to begin in-patient treatment Monday (today) and that she was doing her best to avoid the pills until then. She'd left, she said, to get away from Gross and the pills.

Asked how there could only be six pills left after a purchase of 15 the day before, she responded that his addiction was so bad, it would be nothing for him to have smoked nine in that span of time, that they would at times smoke 10 pills at once. Last year, she said, Gross overdosed, stopped breathing and turned blue. She thought he would die, but he was saved by emergency first responders with Narcan.

Gross was charged felony possession of a controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia. If convicted on felony possession, he faces a prison term of up to seven years and or a fine not to exceed $15,000. He is expected to bond out of jail today with bond set at $40,000.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 100 times stronger than morphine. DEA lab analysis has identified counterfeit pills ranging from .02 milligrams to 5.1 milligrams of fentanyl per tablet, with 26-percent of the counterfeit pills tested containing a lethal dose of fentanyl.

A deadly dose of fentanyl can be as little as two milligrams, the amount in the pile of white powder depicted on the photo of the penny, left.

If anyone in the community has information on this incident or questions regarding counterfeit fentanyl and its abuse, call the Bonners Ferry Police Department at (208) 267-2412.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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