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Panel weighs in on fentanyl pandemic

by | May 17, 2023 | Latest

In the Collin College Conference Center in Wylie, community members gathered on National Fentanyl Awareness Day Tuesday, May 9, to learn more about the impacts of the drug in their community.

A panel discussion was hosted by the Wylie Police Department along with representatives from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Collin County Substance Abuse, Wylie Independent School District, Collin College and the mother of a fentanyl overdose victim. After transitioning from a lobby area that contained informational pamphlets from some of the organizations present, attendees were treated to discussion about fentanyl and its impact in the local community.

Sgt. Donald English, Wylie Police Department public information officer, said the event was not only an opportunity to present the realities of the fentanyl epidemic but raise awareness about potential risks of using the drug.

“The reality is that fentanyl is here in Wylie and it is important to know the best ways to combat it, such as conversations with kids and adults,” English said. “It also creates a campaign of awareness for our community.”

Guy Baker, an assistant special agent in charge at the DEA in Dallas, said his agency frequently partners with state and local agencies to fight back against the flow of drugs into communities. In most cases, the drug is obtained from friends, or another trusted individual, specifically with younger buyers.

“A lot of times there is an emoji or an icon that may look like a budding flower for marijuana or Skittles,” Baker said. “There’s a number of various icons and resources available online to get to know the lingo and understand the conversations they are having with their friends or someone they don’t know.”

Detective Joshua Roundree with the Wylie Police Department said the leading cause of fentanyl-related deaths come from ingesting the crushed pills. However, it also stems from an inherent trust buyers have in their dealers that is not well-founded when it comes to fentanyl.

“These people are not knowingly giving their friend or classmate fentanyl,” Roundtree said. “They believe it’s something else.”

He continued that some of the codewords used by children include asking for “percs” or “oxys.”

Misty Harris, a program coordinator at Collin County Substance Abuse, said pill presses used to make the fentanyl tablets are easy to obtain online. Baker added that the pills are manufactured by individuals in the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels without a concrete understanding of how much fentanyl is laced inside each tablet.

“The absolute truth behind this epidemic is that nobody knows what’s inside them; that’s how dangerous they are,” said Kate Capehart, operations manager for Paramedics Plus.

For the full story, see the May 17 issue of The Wylie News.

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