CARROLTON, Texas – A pair of drug dealers were busted after three Carrollton-Farmers Branch high school students died and six others have been hospitalized in a string of fentanyl overdoses, most of them since December.
According to federal investigators, each of these tragedies traces back to a single residence in Carrollton, located a few blocks away from R.L. Turner High School, where underage distributors as young as 14-years-old obtained the narcotics and sold them to classmates, NBC DFW reported.
The deadly sequence of events was laid out in a criminal complaint filed against Luis Eduardo Navarrete and Magaly Mejia Cano as the couple made their initial appearance Monday afternoon in federal court in Dallas. The pair have been charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance.
DEA agents conducted surveillance before raiding the home in the 1800 block of Highland Drive Friday, when Navarrete, 21, and Cano, 29, were arrested. They are accused of dealing fentanyl outside of the residence, located between Turner High School and Dewitt Perry Middle School.
According to the criminal complaint, the two dealt “percocet” and “oxycontin” pills laced with fentanyl to multiple teen drug dealers in the area, primarily students from Turner High School. The young dealers then sold the pills to classmates and children at Dewitt Perry and Dan Long Middle Schools.
Nine students from these schools, ranging in age from 13-17, overdosed between September and February. Three of the teens did not survive. Moreover, one 14-year-old girl survived after overdosing twice and was temporarily paralyzed, according to NBC DFW.
Jose Alberto Perez, 14, was one of the three students who died. His mother, Lilia Astudillo, said it was late January when she entered his bedroom and found him unresponsive.
“I didn’t want to believe it, I thought he was playing with me, I thought it was one of his jokes, but no, it was true,” she said.
Eduardo Chavez is the DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas office. He said agents are working hard to get the incredibly lethal drugs off the streets.
“Two milligrams is considered a lethal dose. Two milligrams can fit on the tip of a pencil,” Chavez said. “There’s no such thing as experimentation with these pills.”
Chavez said 60 percent of the pills seized in the Dallas-Forth Worth area have potentially lethal doses of fentanyl. DEA is also combatting the myth that drugs in pill form aren’t as harmful. He said just one try is all it takes to change lives forever, according to the news outlet.
“Pills, I think, overall, are a very disarming sort of thing. You get weaned off of liquid medications and liquid vitamins when you are maybe eight or nine years old and your parents are teaching you how to take a vitamin or an antibiotic,” he said. “And so, to see a pill, it is not the same perhaps in any of our minds as it is for someone to pull out a shard of methamphetamine. So I think for all of those reasons there’s a misperception of the ability for it to harm you.”