A Galveston man has been arrested for allegedly selling fentanyl-laced cocaine at a Christmas party.
Two people who purchased the laced drugs overdosed and were pronounced dead later that night.
Patrick Miller, 23, was charged with two counts of manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance, according to the Galveston Police Department.
On December 25 at 7:19 p.m., officers responded to a call for service regarding an unconscious person, 31-year-old Vadim Birca, on the 8300 block of Seawall Boulevard. After efforts to save his life, Birca was transported to the Texas Medical Branch, where he was pronounced dead.
About 25 minutes later, officers responded to another unconscious body on the 5300 block of Seawall.
The second person was identified as 34-year-old Dimitrije Gudovski. EMS and paramedics attempted life-saving efforts before Gudovski was also taken to the hospital, where he later died from an overdose of narcotics as well.
After further investigation, police determined that the men knew each other and had similar bags with cartoon pandas on them that appeared to contain cocaine.
“If you see a bag that looks like this with a panda on it, there’s a good chance there may be fentanyl in this bag. You don’t want to handle it. You don’t want to touch it,” police said.
The contents of the two bags were later tested and confirmed to be laced with fentanyl.
In a press conference, Galveston PD Sgt. Derek Gaspard said, “Vadim Birca and Dimitrije Gudovski were both reported to be acquaintances and attended the same holiday gathering at the 8300 block of Seawall Boulevard. Investigators quickly mobilized and began linking the two cases and determined both Birca and Gudovski purchased narcotics from the same supplier.”
That supplier was later identified as Miller after the Drug Enforcement Agency and Galveston PD joined forces to trace the source of the drugs.
Police said additional charges are expected.
Miller is being held at the Galveston County Jail with a bond set at $200,000.
Fentanyl trafficking has become a major crisis across the United States, including in Dallas, where the city council has overseen a spike in drug crimes and drug-related deaths.