By Greg Capers
San Jacinto County Sheriff
I will be departing from my regular article on bringing you subjects of your safety and security to share my insights into the initiative that our government in Austin under the leadership of Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steve McCraw and others have taken to combat the ever-increasing illegal importation of deadly fentanyl.
On April 6, Abbott announced two major statewide initiatives to combat the growing national fentanyl crisis and to save lives in Texas during his “One Pill Kills” summit co-hosted with Texas Against Fentanyl in Austin.
During that summit, the governor unveiled a new $10 million multimedia awareness initiative through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to educate Texans on how to prevent, recognize, and reverse fentanyl poisonings as part of the statewide One Pill Kills campaign.
The Governor also instructed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to begin distributing Narcan to every county in all 252 counties in Texas. Narcan is used to reverse the effects of fentanyl and other opioids drugs when administered timely and as prescribed.
This announcement of statewide distribution of Narcan, a nasal medication, that rapidly reverses opioid poisoning comes after several opioid manufacturers entered a legal settlement with the State of Texas, thanks to the efforts by the office of Attorney General Ken Paxon. A portion of the settlement allocates Narcan to the State of Texas to support communities in fighting the opioid crisis.
TDEM will circulate the allotment of Narcan and will soon begin distributing the first 20,000 units to county sheriff’s offices across the state. Each of Texas’ 254 county sheriff’s offices, including our own here in San Jacinto County will be eligible to receive a portion of this first allotment based on county population and size.
Following Abbott’s directive last September, instructing state agencies to ramp up efforts to combat the deadly fentanyl crisis, then HHSC, partnered with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio to create a multimedia initiative to educate the public about the dangers of fentanyl, and how to use Narcan to shave Texans expose to the deadly drug.
In support of the Governor’s ongoing coordinated One Pill Kills campaign to combat the growing fentanyl crisis plaguing Texas and the United States, this operation is targeted toward youth, parents, adults, and educators throughout the state using billboards, websites and social media advertisements and more.
During Abbott’s State of The State address, he expressed that he wanted prosecutors to have the ability to charge those who make, distribute or sell fentanyl with murder. Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican from Houston, wrote SB 645 to do so, which the Senate has passed.
The Governor also ordered the state agencies to outline statutory changes, budget priorities and other initiatives that will enhance the state’s ability to interdict the synthetic opioid, and provide emergency overdose treatment, and expand substance abuse treatment programs.
Members of the Texas House of Representatives seek to join the One Pill Kills panel to highlight proposed legislation that will save more lives and help ensure the Governor’s emergency of fighting the fentanyl crisis during the 88th legislative session.
Gov. Abbott and Turner were joined by Reps. Frederic Frazier, Craig Goldman, Terry Leo-Wilson, John Lujan, Tom Oliverson and James Talarico.
Gov. Abbott has taken additional action to address the growing fentanyl crisis plaguing our state in the nation:
•Signing a law enhancing penalties for the manufacture and distribution of fentanyl.
•Designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
•Announcing finding the fentanyl crisis as an end, emergency item for the 88th legislative session.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is the leading killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45. Last year, more than 2000 lives were lost to fentanyl in Texas alone. Overdose deaths involving fentanyl increased by 89 percent in Texas from 2020 to 2021, and 99 percent of these deaths were accidental, according to information provided at the One Pill Kills summit from the Governor’s office, which cited the CDC and the DEA on their statistics.
Additionally, data from the Texas Department of State Health Services Texas has experienced a 500 percent increase in fentanyl-related deaths since 2019. Under Operation Lone Star, Texas law enforcement alone has seized more than 380,000 million lethal doses of fentanyl since 2021, enough to killevery man, woman, and child in America.
Our ultimate objective is to rid our communities of this evil plague that is come upon us.
Greg Capers is Sheriff of San Jacinto County.