El Paso DEA warns of legal consequences of opioid epidemic

by Mia Villanueva. Saturday, September 28th 2019AA

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Phoenix Division shows a closeup of the fentanyl-laced sky blue pills known on the street as “Mexican oxy.” Smuggled in from Mexico, these mimic the prescription drug oxycodone. Law enforcement officers in the U.S. Southwest say they have also seen fentanyl-laced pills mimicking Vicodin pain medicine and Xanax anti-anxiety tablets, as well as fentanyl powder to mix with heroin for an extra kick. Officers say that because the tablets are designed to look like prescription medicine, consumers often don’t know they are swallowing fentanyl. And because they are made without any kind of quality control, taking them is like Russian roulette because the amount of fentanyl in each can vary widely. (Drug Enforcement Administration via AP)

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division have conducted a joint operation that led to 14 people being charged.

Special agent Kyle Williamson with the DEA El Paso division says the opioid crisis in the Borderland starts with either doctors prescribing opioids for illegitimate causes or patients using fraudulent information to gain prescriptions.

But Williamson says their biggest problem is when those prescription pills get sold on the streets.

“If you sell to someone, if you give to someone, and as a result that person overdoses and dies, that’s gonna be the equivalent of killing someone, and homicide”, Williamson said.

The DEA says depending on a person’s criminal record, they could be charged on the state or even federal level; especially if the person who was sold the drugs dies.

The DEA says the new trend of pressing pills with fentanyl has made prescription drugs even more deadly.

They say they’re often seeing fentanyl compressed into the prescription pain killer OxyCodone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just a quarter of a milligram of fentanyl can kill someone.

Williamson says what makes the opioid epidemic so dangerous is that it’s not confined to a certain class.

The crisis has affected all levels of society; low income, middle income, and high income.

However, Williamson says it’s the younger generation in El Paso that is most susceptible to falling victim to the opioid epidemic.

“Juvenile children who get addicted, it becomes a vicious cycle of lifetime addiction,” Williamson said. “Because of the chemicals in the body and the brain, it’s still forming, you’re susceptible up to 25 years of age if you’re using at a moderate amount, to become an addicted.”

The DEA says kids or young adults are often obtaining prescription pills by getting them, for example, from their parents’ medicine cabinets.

They then go on to share them with friends at parties or sell them on the streets.

TAGS: Mia Villanueva, DEA, Drug Enforcement Agency, Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division, Mexican Oxy, Fentanyl, Kyle Williamson

LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE: https://kfoxtv.com/news/local/el-paso-dea-warns-of-legal-consequences-of-opioid-epidemic

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