Two adults charged with dealing fentanyl in Texas schools after 10 teens overdose, three fatally
Two people have been arrested for distributing fentanyl pills in Texas schools after 10 students suffered overdoses - three of them fatal - in a span of four months.
Luis Eduardo Navarrete, 21, and Magaly Mejia Cano, 29, of Carrollton, have been charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, court documents unsealed last week state. According to an affidavit reviewed by The Independent, Mr Navarrete and Ms Cano distributed fentanyl-laced Percocet and Oxycontin pills to minors in three schools in the Carrollton Farmers Branch Independent School District.
A DEA agent alleged that three teenagers had died as a result of pills distributed by the suspects. Ms Cano and Mr Navarrete’s distribution network included at least eight juvenile dealers — aged 14 to 16 — “with moderate to significant involvement in the distribution” of the pills also known as “M30.”
The overdoses took place between late September and as recently as 1 February. The victims’ ages ranged between 13 to 17 years old.
Authorities said the deadly drug is usually sold to consumers for only $10 and that Mr Navarrete and other juvenile dealers would arrange sales with minors via Instagram.
According to court documents, police interviewed overdose survivors who led them to Navarrete and Cano. Law enforcement then surveilled the suspects and observed Mr Navarrete and Ms Cano conduct hand-to-hand transactions with multiple individuals at their homes.
One of the victims, a 14-year-old female at RL Turner High School, suffered two overdoses as a results of pills initially distributed by Mr Navarrete and Ms Cano. The first overdose took place on Christmas Eve and the second on 16 January.
In those instances, she purchased the pills from different dealers linked to the suspects. The teen was left temporarily partially paralysed but survived.
“As the nationwide Fentanyl epidemic faces our community, we remain committed to holding criminals responsible,” the Carrollton Police Department, which worked along with the DEA to gather evidence, said in a statement.
“The joint efforts of our officers’ investigations, on-campus field work from CPD School Resource Officers, and partnership with federal agencies were crucial in today’s development. However, we all must continue to be vigilant.”
The department also encouraged the district to attend a town hall on fentanyl on Thursday.
“Selling drugs alone is a serious transgression, but to sell deadly fentanyl to a juvenile is one of the most shocking and callous ways to hurt a community,” Special Agent in charge of the DEA Dallas Field Division Eduardo Chavez also said.
If convicted, Navarrete and Cano each face up to 20 years in federal prison.
In September, three youths between the ages of 13 and 21 in Wichita Falls, a Texas district near Carrollton, also suffered fatal overdoses in a span of 28 hours.
In an interview with The Independent last year, two of the Wichita Falls victims’ mothers said their children’s deaths were the symptom of an unforgiving epidemic affecting the country.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and only 2 milligrams of the synthetic opioid could be lethal.
In Texas, almost 1,700 fentanyl-related deaths were reported in 2021, compared to 100,000 deaths nationwide between April 2020 and April 2021, CDC data shows.