HAYS COUNTY, Texas — In a Thursday media conference, Kyle Police Department Chief Jeff Barnett said two people had been arrested and charged in connection with ongoing investigations about fentanyl in the community.
Anthony Jean Perez Rios, 20, was arrested in San Marcos and charged with three separate charges: manufacture and delivery with intent to distribute a controlled substance, delivery of a controlled substance to a child and possession of a controlled substance.
Barnett said officers found guns and 400 counterfeit Percocet pills containing fentanyl when Rios was arrested.
The other person arrested was a 16-year-old. Because they are a minor, their identity was not released. The juvenile is being charged with the manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance.
Barnett did not release more details regarding the arrests, as investigations are ongoing, and he did not specify if the two people arrested had distributed the pills to the four Hays CISD students who have died or others who experienced overdoses. He anticipates that more people will be arrested in link to the case in the future.
The chief said that, in Kyle, officers have identified light blue pills, stamped with "M30," intended to look like legal prescription drugs have been found in connection to cases within the city. But he warned that the color, shape and size could change, so he urged parents to be aware of all pills and that even a piece of a pill could be deadly.
How is fentanyl spreading?
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Agent Tyson Hodges also attended the media conference and said fentanyl is coming from cartels that are "flooding" communities with fake pills containing the drug via social media.
These groups are using social media chats to advertise and market the drugs and make arrangements for when and where to meet to get the drugs.
Hodges said the pills are being produced in Mexico by cartels using fentanyl that comes to the country. Those pills are then shipped across the border.
Locally, KPD Chief Barnett said fentanyl is coming to Hays County from the Greater Austin area, which gets the drug from outside of the country.
Hodges said that the fake pills look very similar to real prescription drugs, making it hard to tell the difference.
What's being done?
Hodges said the DEA is partnering with the Texas National Guard, the Hays County health department and local law enforcement officers to develop an overdose task force.
That task force would be tasked with identifying, tracking and arresting criminals with fake pills containing fentanyl.
At the county level, Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler said that EMS and fire officials will work with local law enforcement to help track fentanyl incidents and create an overdose mapping system. Cutler said that his office has responded to 10 fentanyl overdose deaths in the county in the past 13 months, but doesn't know how many overdoses there have been in the county.
That's because overdose calls come in as medical calls, so law enforcement may not be alerted about the call. He said the mapping system will help keep track of those overdoses to help investigators.
Cutler also said he asked the Hays County Crime Stoppers to increase the reward to $1,000 for information leading to drug dealers.
The sheriff's office also said it has developed an educational program to raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl. Cutler said any local group can contact the sheriff's office at 512-393-7896 to have the sheriff's office come and talk to them about the deadly drug.
“It’s time that we get together. We have to pull together as a team here. And law enforcement is doing it. We got to get our community, we got to get our youth to work with us. We got to put a stop to this," Cutler said on Thursday.
Officials stressed the importance of parents stepping in and talking to their kids to ensure they aren't getting involved with these kinds of drugs. Hodges said parents should talk to their children and even monitor their social media and phone traffic.
"Law enforcement can't do this by ourselves. We got to have the community’s help. We can sit up here and tell you about arrests and seizures all day long but the simple fact of the matter is if the parents will get involved and work with us, we can address this at a more finite level down with the family level and that’s where we need to be," Hodges said.
Watch the full press conference here:
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