A third person was arrested in connection to the drug-related deaths of three teenagers in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch area, according to federal investigators.
Jason Xavier Villanueva, 22, was arrested for the federal crime of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, said U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton in a press release issued on Wednesday.
Investigators believe that Villanueva supplied fentanyl to Eduardo Navarrete, 21, and Magaly Mejia Cano, 29, who then allegedly distributed it to kids near a middle school in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the drugs supposedly provided by Navarrete and Cano led to 10 confirmed overdoses, three of which were fatal. Both suspects have been charged via criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and face potentially 20 years in prison.
Speaking at a press conference announcing the arrest of Navarrete and Cano’s alleged supplier, Simonton elaborated on the deadly impact of street drugs laced with fentanyl.
“In some cases, traffickers are pressing fentanyl into counterfeit pills without their buyer’s knowledge. It is a hidden lethal threat in those pills,” Simonton said, NBC 5 reported.
Drug dealers add fentanyl to their products to improve their bottom line, Simonton explained.
“Fentanyl is significantly cheaper and easier to produce than other drugs and it’s highly addictive. Many traffickers think nothing of secretly substituting in fentanyl for another drug, oxy, Xanax, or even meth or heroin if they think they’ll turn a bigger profit,” Simonton explained, per NBC 5.
According to the press release, investigators allegedly have evidence of Villanueva corresponding online with the two juvenile dealers accused of having distributed the pills that caused the overdoses at Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. One of the juvenile dealers allegedly confirmed that the suspect had supplied them drugs, as reportedly did Navarrete under questioning after his arrest.
Villanueva was first arrested Tuesday, according to the press release, and then appeared before a judge Wednesday afternoon. If found guilty, he also faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
In the press conference, local law enforcement impressed the urgency of the matter upon attendees.
“We take this seriously in our community; we will leave no stone unturned to ensure the safety of our children,” said Carrollton’s police chief Roberto Arredondo in the release.
“Fentanyl is killing our kids,” Simonton said, per the release. “We are angry about it. We are heartbroken about it. And we are determined to do all we can about it.”
Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD held a meeting last week to discuss the problem of fentanyl among juveniles at length with more than 100 people attending, reported by The Dallas Express.
During the meeting, Carrollton Police Department officials discussed harm reduction techniques such as Narcan, an opioid-reversal drug that restarts breathing, and Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD officials also spoke of counseling and other methods to stem the use of the drug.
In nearby Dallas, there were more than 700 crimes committed related to drugs and narcotics last month, according to the Dallas City Council’s Open Data crime analytics dashboard, and more than 300 have been committed so far this month.