On a night straight from his nightmares, John Darling spoke to his son at 9:30 p.m. At 11:30 p.m., he had a call from St. Mary's County Police.
"He was gone," Darling said.
His son had died of an opioid overdose. "It's been just tremendously hard on the family. I never heard of fentanyl. And i don't think he had either," Darling said.
Wednesday, St. Mary's officials cracked down. Darling's drug dealer is one of eight indicted on murder charges in St. Mary's County.
Prosecutors say their drugs led to eight deaths.
"For $50, they do not mind killing our children, our wives, our fathers, brothers, and sisters. This has got to stop," said Richard Fritz, St. Mary's County state's attorney.
All those indicted were charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and additional distribution and possession charges. Among those indicted Wednesday were Latece Cantelle Greer, Geoffrey Walter Uhall, Marcell Davon Blackiston, Tyreise Divron Nelson, Christina McCauley Granados and Desmond Lamar Sloan.
Two other people had been indicted on similar charges previously: Regina Malvalee Claggett-Brown in 2015 and Mark Steven Garner II in May.
Already this year, the amount of heroin and opioid related deaths in St. Mary’s County in 2017 surpasses the total number of of overdoses in all of 2016. As of June, there had been 14 reported heroin- and opioid-related deaths this year. In 2016 the county saw nine deaths.
The crackdown is some comfort to families, including the Darlings.
I'm so proud of the governor and the state police and St. Mary's County Police for pursuing this, because he was way too young to go," Darling said. "I don't know about the rest of the victims, but i know how hard it has been on me and my family."