With the continued prevalence of fentanyl related drug seizures and deaths, several recent cases initiated by the Parker County Sheriff’s Office Special Crimes Unit (SCU) have led to large seizures of fentanyl and other illicit drugs in the Fort Worth and Parker County areas.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is purported to be 50-times stronger than heroin.
From January 2022 to January 2023, there were seven confirmed deaths in Parker County resulting from fentanyl ingestion, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office. Two additional fentanyl-related deaths are pending toxicology results. SCU investigators believe additional nonfatal incidents may exist but are going unreported due to the fear of law enforcement intervention.
Authorities discovered only one death case was found to be a result of a lethal use of heroin. The remaining cases all were confirmed to be a direct result of a lethal mix of fentanyl. These deaths resulted from narcotics purchased off the streets including methamphetamine, cocaine, Xanax, Tramadol — all mixed with fentanyl, which proved to be deadly.
Special Crimes investigators said they believe the rise in fentanyl deaths is due to the decrease in price.
“Years ago, heroin went for $100 per gram,” said SCU Commander James Peel. “Today, we see fentanyl and heroin pills manufactured on the streets and sold for $5 per pill. People think because it’s in a pill form that it won’t harm them but in reality, it turns out to be deadly.”
One such investigation began last year in April, following several Parker County overdose cases. Sheriff’s SCU members arrested Aiden Bandy in May within hours of learning he was the source of the fentanyl distribution in several of the fentanyl-related incidents. “Our Special Crimes investigators respond to every overdose case reported in our jurisdiction,” Sheriff Authier said. “We are taking this threat very seriously and we are tracking down the sources and charging the distributors and manufacturers accordingly.”
Parker County Sheriff Russ Authier is quick to point out that a majority of these “so-called” overdose cases are in fact poisonings.
“Many of the adults and teenagers consuming these counterfeit drugs are unaware they are laced with fentanyl which has the potential to kill them,” Authier said.
In a separate investigation, brothers Samuel (22) and Angel Ibarra (19) were arrested by SCU in October for distributing fentanyl pills.
SCU investigators then arrested Amber Barnett, 41, in November on charges following the death of a Parker County male caused by fentanyl poisoning.
Another SCU investigation led to the arrest of a known narcotics trafficker identified as Isaiah Marquis Christopher, 26. Christopher was arrested on a Parker County warrant in December for delivery of a controlled substance following a traffic stop by Fort Worth Police. A search warrant was conducted at Christopher’s residence and SCU investigators seized weapons, electronics, and more than $116,000 in illegal narcotics, including suspected methamphetamine, Adderall, cocaine, Alprazolam, Hydrocodone, MDMA, Psilocybin (mushrooms), Promethazine, hydroponic marijuana, and THC cartridges, wax, and edibles.
Christopher was selling counterfeit Xanax and other drugs to Parker County teens and young adults which resulted in several poisoning hospitalizations.
In another investigation, SCU Investigators arrested Daniel Lloyd Nugent II, 48, in February, who possessed 70 fentanyl and heroin pills; and Brittany Dawn May, 31, was arrested March 3, on narcotics charges after purchasing 27 fentanyl pills. Also last month, SCU and Fort Worth authorities executed search warrants at homes of known fentanyl and heroin distribution sources.
These cases are under active investigation in cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). As drug investigations develop in complexity and extend beyond the Parker County jurisdictional boundary, they are often adopted by other agencies at the city, county, state and federal level.
“We would like to thank all of our partner agencies for their assistance with these investigations,” Authier said.
During a recent trip to the southern border Sheriff Authier witnessed firsthand the crisis effecting our nation.
“Meeting with federal, state, and local officials shed a much-needed light on a growing situation which desperately needs our immediate attention,” Authier said. “In Parker County we are combating the results of the massive influx of illicit narcotics entering our open border and endangering every community in Texas and across America. We take a proactive approach in fighting drug trafficking and go after the suspects responsible. These poisonings are tragic incidents which can be avoided. Education and awareness are the keys in prevention. We urge those struggling with addiction to seek help immediately. Our SCU investigators are actively investigating cases and working with other agencies in efforts to take out the source and supply.”
Sheriff Authier also added he would like to thank our Special Crimes Unit for their diligence in building these cases and for continuing to combat the street drug fight in our community.
“I believe the men and women of the Parker County Sheriff’s Office Special Crimes Unit are the finest drug fighting force in the State of Texas,” Authier said.
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