How emojis are used during drug deals with teens, what parents need to know

A Houston area mother is marking the anniversary of her son’s death by trying to keep other parents from her same pain after her son died of an accidental drug overdose.

I also spoke with a DEA agent and both want parents to know, gone are the days when kids have to travel to a seedy part of town to look for drugs. Now drug dealers advertise with emojis like snow images indicating they have cocaine and according to the DEA a cookie image means the dealer has a large batch, which can then be paid for electronically and delivered to kids in a matter of minutes.

"Today marks the second anniversary of my son Ethan’s passing from an accidental overdose," Sarah Hall the founder of M-COPE, Montgomery County Overdose Prevention Endeavor explains. 


As difficult as this day is for Hall she joined several members of the non-profit she started to speak about overdose awareness, in hopes of saving someone else’s child.

"I don’t want to see anybody else go through what I’ve gone through, what we’ve gone through," M-COPE member Kimberly Rosinski says through tears. Her son Stephen died of a drug overdose after returning from an out-of-state drug rehabilitation center. "He was healthy, happy, had a lot of hope for the future. Six days later he passed, relapsed, and passed. I found him overdosed on my couch".  

The moms spoke with us while standing by waist high pictures of their handsome sons that they lost too soon to drugs. So they want to educate parents about a new way kids are getting drugs.

"Drug traffickers have recently transitioned from the streets to using social media platforms," explains Houston DEA Deputy Special Agent in Charge Tracey Mendez, and she points to a page on the DEA website where parents can go to see how emojis are now being used for different drugs and the site shows how with one click kids can pay for drugs and have them delivered.

One of the most dangerous is Fentanyl. According to the DEA Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than Morphine. "Overdoses as a whole have increased. In 2021 approximately 107,000 deaths were attributed to drug overdoses with about 70% of those being linked to synthetic opioids like Fentanyl," Sp. Agent Mendez says. 

Most people have no idea they’re taking Fentanyl, which can look like colorful candy. Typically users think they’re illegally buying and taking a prescription pill. Some have been poisoned and killed taking even half a pill that’s laced with Fentanyl. "Drug poisoning is the leading cause of death in America between ages 18 and 45," Mendez explains. 

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Sunday, M-COPE is hosting a Drug Overdose Awareness Day event, where they hope their sons stories will help save others. "He’s with me. I feel him with me and I think we’re going to do a lot. I think we’re going to bring a lot of awareness to the community," Hall says while choking back tears. 

The governor is also scheduled to speak at the event which will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at The Woodlands Methodist Church, Loft Building at 9201 Grogans Mill Road. It is absolutely free and everyone is invited. The pictures the moms stood next to as they spoke of their sons will also be set up there. In fact, this year the event will feature the faces of 160 area victims of overdose, some as young as 14 years old. 

Visit for everything from drug treatment resources to education for parents regarding drug use and overdose prevention.