UPDATED 7:44 AM PT – Friday, April 2, 2021
Houston, Texas is seeing a surge of fentanyl-related overdoses. During a press conference Thursday, the president of the Houston Forensic Science Center, Dr. Peter Stout, said they have seen an 87 percent increase in fentanyl cases throughout the city.
Stout added that for the first time, they saw a pill sold as ecstasy that contained both methamphetamine and fentanyl in the same tablet. He said they are often disguised as colorful pills, adding that there’s no way for people to know what’s inside just by looking at them.
“These are children’s vitamins and aspirin, but ecstasy tablets…there is no earthly way that somebody knows what they just stuck in their mouth with this,” Dr. Stout explained. “Could be fentanyl, could be methamphetamine, could be anything than what they thought…we see this all the time.”
Houston DEA Special Agent Erik Smith highlighted the severity of the influx while drawing attention to just how lethal fentanyl can be.
“The Houston division in Drug Enforcement Administration, in fiscal year 2019, seized about 53 kilograms of fentanyl,” he noted. “In fiscal year 2020 that number increased 600 percent to 323 kilograms…at a fatal dosage unit, that’s enough to kill half the population of the United States.”
#DEA Houston Associate Special Agent in Charge Erik Smith speaking this morning @HoustonForensic Science Center on the dangers of #fentanyl laced drugs #awareness #drugfree #DEAHoustonDiv pic.twitter.com/DKipXFsb3O
— DEAHouston (@DEAHOUSTONDiv) April 1, 2021
The Mexican government reported that in 2020 they seized more than 1.3 tons of the drug. Smith urged lawmakers to renew a law, which would allow border agents to seize the substance at ports of entry. He pointed to the DEA’s finding that fentanyl is typically brought into the U.S. across the southwest border.