New Overdose Task Force created in Hays County following numerous fentanyl poisoning deaths

Nearly 400 Fentanyl-laced pills were taken off the streets in San Marcos, and police say more arrests could follow. KSAT's Alicia Barrera also reached out to a local addiction and recovery center, warning that more deaths could come in the Hays County area.

HAYS COUNTY, Texas – A fourth student from Hays Consolidated District has died due to fentanyl poisoning in the past two months. In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett reported seven fentanyl overdose deaths in his city and five in San Marcos.

Hays County authorities now warn communities in the area to be vigilant of counterfeit Percocet pills.

“It’s typically a light blue pill stamped with M-30 on it,” Barnett said. “You need to have a conversation with your children about the possibility that these drugs are going to change shape, color (or) size.”

A weeks-long investigation led authorities to arrest two suspected fentanyl distributors, including 20-year-old Anthony Pérez Rios and a 16-year-old.

“(Pérez) also had in his possession at his residence a shotgun and a rifle, and he had nearly four hundred counterfeit Percocet pills containing fentanyl,” Barnett said. “Those were ready for deadly distribution in our community at the time of his arrest.”

The nonprofit Rise Recovery also issued a warning to parents and teens.

“It should be incredibly concerning for parents because these drugs are now being manufactured to look just like the prescription pills that you think are safe,” said Evita Morin, Rise Recovery’s CEO. “You believe that you’re ingesting something that recreationally is safe for you, and you end up dying from a drug overdose. And so, these overdoses are going to continue to happen as long as the suppliers of these drugs know that there’s a market for them.”

Morin said fentanyl is not a drug people want in their systems, but buyers may be deceived.

“Fentanyl is 50 (to 100) times stronger than heroin,” Morin said. “These overdoses are just ravaging our communities. And things like Narcan are incredibly important to get to our community so that we can reverse these overdoses and give someone a chance at surviving.”

Anyone can order a free Narcan at MoreNarcanPlease.com.

“You can actually order it for free and have it delivered to you,” Morin said. “Everyone should have this in their back pocket in the event that they see someone in need of overdose help.”

According to Tyson Hodges, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge in Austin, law enforcement cannot battle this fight against fentanyl alone.

“The Drug Enforcement Administration is going to partner with the Texas National Guard, the County Public Health Department and local law enforcement agencies throughout each county to develop an Overdose Task Force,” Hodges said. “The goal is for the task force is to crack down and arrest violent criminals (selling) fentanyl or fake pills containing fentanyl. The other goal of the task force will be to educate the public and youth about the dangers of fentanyl.”

According to Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler, his agency launched an education program two weeks ago.

“Whether it’s like a school classroom, school auditorium, football locker room, the local Lions Club, homeowner associations (or) anybody (that) allows (us), (we) can talk to them about the dangers (of fentanyl),” Cutler said.

Anyone interested in having the Hays County Sheriff’s Office fentanyl education program can call 512-393-7986.

“We have to pull together as a team here,” Cutler said. “We’ve got to put a stop to this.”

Resources:

To access free drug and/or alcohol recovery support for teens and their families through Telehealth, click here.

The free hotline 210-SAY-CARE connects callers to local substance use recovery resources.

To order free Narcan, click here.

ALSO ON KSAT.COM

Man, 20, arrested for supplying fentanyl pills in San Marcos, police say

Fourth Hays CISD student dies from fentanyl overdose in 2 months

3 Hays CISD students die from suspected fentanyl overdoses in just one month

New ‘rainbow fentanyl’ trend terrifying for parents, schools

Bexar County mother fears daughter died of a fentanyl overdose


About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.