RAMSEY, N.J. — The United States Department of Justice indicted a New Jersey father of three this week, charging Darius Ghahary, 47, who had ties to Chinese and Canadian traffickers of the often-fatal opioid, fentanyl.
The indictment mentions the initials (DL) of a 19-year-old Ramsey teen, who fatally overdosed on a dose of fentanyl and heroin in February 2014.
Linda Lajterman knows that DL is her son, Daniel, who was found dead in his Ramsey bedroom on February 23, 2014. His parents had no idea he had ever used heroin--or any other hard drug.
"I honestly just want to shout out to every kid in Ramsey that if you bought drugs from this guy, you won the lottery," Lajterman said of teens who survived their encounters with Ghahary. "You got lucky. You didn't get a bad dose."
New Jersey prosecutors had already charged Ghahary with "strict liability" manslaughter for the death of Daniel Lajterman, who was the youngest of three children. Ghahary faces even more trouble now, with the federal case.
"His son was the captain of the football team that Danny played on," Linda Lajterman noted. "He was at the football games. He was around town."
Linda Lajterman is a nurse, and in 2014, she knew that fentanyl was a man-made anesthetic and a painkiller that was often used to treat pain at the end of a patient's life.
She probably didn't realize then that drug traffickers were starting to mass produce it.
"Fentanyl is so cheap," noted James Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in New York. "Really, a few thousand dollar investment can reap several million dollars back."
A few specs of fentanyl are enough to kill a person, and the Centers for Disease Control reported more than 20,000 Americans died in 2016 from fentanyl-related overdoses. One of them was music icon, Prince, who was discovered unresponsive in the elevator of his Michigan estate.
The Department of Justice indictment announced this week is the first of its kind.
For the first time, DOJ is going after the businessmen who have factories in China that create massive amounts of fentanyl and then sell it online. Much of the fentanyl is sent through the mail.
Jian Zhang, 38, is allegedly connected to the deaths of four people in the U.S. through fentanyl trafficking, including Lajterman's in New Jersey.
Xiaobing Yan, 40, operated at least two chemical plants in China, the indictment charges, and allegedly ran a variety of websites selling "acetyl fentanyl."
Yan was indicted in the Southern District of Mississippi.
Five Canadian citizens, two Florida residents, and Ghahary of New Jersey were indicted by the District of North Dakota, because one of the cases was developed there.
There is so much profit involved in fentanyl that traffickers in other countries are now getting in on the act.
"There are traffickers now producing it in labs themselves in Mexico and the Dominican Republic," James Hunt said of the synthetic opioid.
Linda Lajterman told PIX11 she's pleased to see the government going after the sources of the fentanyl that's flooding into the United States.
"Unfortunately, it's too late for a lot of young people," Lajterman said, "but at least now, hopefully, they're making headway. And this will eventually be something that will be in the history books."