A Carrollton man accused of running a fentanyl ring while under house arrest pleaded guilty to drug charges in federal court on Wednesday.
Luis Eduardo Navarrete, 21, agreed to a plea deal in which he admits to one count of conspiracy to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance and one count of distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance to a person under 21 years of age, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 21, where he could face up to 40 years in federal prison for each count and $7 million in fines.
Navarrete is one of nearly a dozen individuals allegedly linked to selling fentanyl-laced M30 pills and causing a series of juvenile overdoses, four of which were fatal.
The high potency of fentanyl means that a small dose — just 2 mg — can be fatal. Fentanyl-related overdoses are all the more frequent due to illicit drug users unwittingly ingesting it via counterfeit pills they were sold in place of popular opioids such as Percocet or Oxycontin.
“To deal fentanyl is to knowingly imperil lives. To deal fentanyl to minors — naive middle and high school students — is to shatter futures,” said U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton when charges were first filed against Navarrete in February.
Navarrete’s co-conspirators told prosecutors that he had run a fentanyl ring from his home located near R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton between December 2022 and February 2023. He had been under house arrest at the time, having successfully bonded out of Dallas County jail and fitted with an ankle monitor.
As explained by the DA, Navarrete’s Dallas-based supplier would deliver the counterfeit pills to his home in the 1800 block of Highland Drive. Then Navarrete would distribute the pills to his network of dealers, many of whom were minors.
One alleged dealer known as “J-Money,” 18-year-old Julio Gonzales Jr., pleaded guilty to federal drug charges a few weeks ago, as covered in The Dallas Express. Upon his arrest, he confessed to receiving and selling approximately 120,000 fentanyl-laced pills in drug deals involving both adults and minors.
The war against drugs continues in North Texas, where a joint operation conducted by the North Texas Sheriff’s Criminal Interdiction Unit and the DEA led to a car chase and a fatal shootout on I-30 in Rockwall County this week, as reported in The Dallas Express. The suspect allegedly fired on deputies and was shot in return, later dying in the hospital. Law enforcement allegedly seized 12 kilos of cocaine from his vehicle.
In Dallas, drug crime is on the rise, with 8,635 drug-related offenses logged this year as of November 3, according to the Dallas Police Department’s crime analytics dashboard. This represents a 4.3% hike year over year.
Fighting crime overall is an uphill battle for DPD, which runs with fewer than 3,200 officers on staff. This is well short of the figure of 4,000 given in a previous analysis from the City of Dallas, which determined that three officers per every 1,000 residents were required to provide adequate policing.