CAMERON COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz spoke about the dangers and consequences for those found with fentanyl.
After more than half a doze people in the county died of suspected fentanyl-related overdoses, ValleyCentral spoke with the DA to learn about the punishment one can face if they are busted with the illegal substance.
Having fentanyl is a first-degree felony. If you are delivering fentanyl-laced drugs and those drugs lead to the death of a user, then that person can be charged with first-degree murder.
This is due to a new statute that came into effect last month which states that if you deliver the substance and “an individual dies as a result of injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or introducing into the individual’s” that person will be charged with murder.
Saenz said that in Texas, residents are not obligated to provide aid to anyone suffering from a drug overdose.
“If you come across an individual who needs medical help, unless you caused that injury, unless you caused that person to need that help then the law does not impose a duty on you to be a good samaritan,” he said.
However, if you are the one who supplied the victim with that drug then you do have a duty to call 911 and render aid.
The DA said unfortunately, fentanyl has affected many communities and that it was only a matter of time before it affected Cameron County.
“If you are a user of drugs be advised that this is what is going on and take care of yourself, ” Saenz said.
While it is not as common for non-drug users to come into contact with fentanyl, the DA warns that those who pick up over-the-counter drugs from Matamoros must also be wary of the risk of laced substances.
“These are over-the-counter drugs, legitimate drugs that people go buy over there because they are cheaper,” Saenz said. “Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry in Mexico is not as strictly patrolled as it is here. So, if you go to Matamoros to buy over-the-counter drugs be advised that the evidence shows that some of those drugs have also been laced with fentanyl.”
He said a child recently died after ingesting a pill that was allegedly laced with fentanyl from Mexico.
“We don’t want to alarm people but we probably haven’t seen the worst of it,” Saenz said.