Hays County

Law Enforcement Agencies Meet to Address Rise in Fentanyl-related Deaths Among Hays CISD Students

todaySeptember 9, 2022 83 8 5

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By Preethi Mangadu
Chief Editor of News

HAYS COUNTY, Texas— An autopsy report confirmed fentanyl overdose as a 4th student’s cause of death in Hays County CISD. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Kyle Police Department (KPD), and Hays County Sheriff’s Office met to discuss concerns and a plan to manage the rise of fentanyl Thursday.

On Wednesday night, the school board informed parents a 15-year-old-student’s death in July was caused by a fentanyl overdose. In recent months, three other students’ deaths were also attributed to fentanyl overdoses.

There have been two additional fentanyl poisonings this past week that both required the use of Narcan, according to Hays CISD. Fentanyl is increasingly becoming more and more of a problem.

“We are also aware of about a half-dozen cases where Hays CISD students, as young as middle school-aged children, have experienced life-threatening overdoses since the end of last school year and during the summer,” said Hays CISD Superintendent Eric Wright in an issued statement.

According to Police Chief of Kyle Police Department Jeff Barnett, this region has an increase in fentanyl poisonings from 2020 through 2022, including San Marcos, Texas.

“Our neighbors to the south, the city of San Marcos has unfortunately faced the same trend. This year they had forty-five fentanyl-related calls for service, with 5 deaths,” Barnett said in Thursday’s press conference.

What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl, under medical supervision, is a synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine. It is used to soothe chronic pain or severe pain following surgery.

Illicit fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs in pills and sold. This is dangerous because a person can take a pill not knowing fentanyl is in it or take a pill not knowing if there is a lethal dose of fentanyl in it.

Recently, rainbow fentanyl has become a trend across the country, according to the DEA. The pill is said to come in many rainbow colors and look like candy, powder, and sidewalk chalk blocks. Many individuals, including children and younger people, are unaware of the dangers of this fentanyl.

What did the DEA, KPD, and Hays County Sheriff’s Office discuss?

Barnett, DEA assistant special agent Tyson Hodges and Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler came together for a press conference on Sept. 8 at Kyle City Hall to discuss fentanyl and how their plans for investigation and control of the illegal substance.

The DEA will be partnering with the Texas National Guard, the Hays County Local Public Health Department, and local law enforcement departments in Hays county to create an overdose task force, according to Hodges. Their goals are tracking down and arresting criminals distributing fentanyl and fake pills containing fentanyl and educating the public and youth about the dangers of fentanyl.

The first goal has begun with the arrest of two individuals relating to the investigation: Anthony Jean Perez Rios, a 20-year-old from San Marcos, and a minor, whose information cannot be released, said Barnett.

Rios is facing charges of Manufacture/Deliver/Possession of a controlled substance, Delivery of a Controlled Substance to a minor, and Possession of a Controlled Substance. He has been accused of supplying fentanyl pills in San Marcos.

The Hays County Sheriff’s Office will be teaming up with the fire department and emergency medical services to create an overdose mapping and tracking system to assist with the investigations, according to Cutler. Furthermore, Cutler said Hays County Crime Stoppers will be increasing the award for fentanyl-related information that leads to an arrest or indictment to $1,000.

Additionally, Hodges said that there were 107, 000 drug poisoning overdoses, 70% being related to opioids and fentanyl, in 2021, and that the DEA has seized over 20 million fake fentanyl pills in the last year.

“People don’t know the difference between a real pill and a fake pill. If you take a fake pill, you’re gambling with your life.” Hodges said. “Remember, it only takes two milligrams, about the size of a few grains of table salt, to kill the average adult.”

Hodges advised that individuals should not take prescriptions not prescribed to them or distributed by a pharmaceutical company. He also said parents should make sure to monitor what their kids are doing on their phones, since their kids may not know the dangers of fentanyl.

If you have any information the Hays County Sheriff’s Department, the Kyle Police Department, or Hays County Crime Stoppers.

Written by: Jordan Young

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