TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas - A teenager who sold a pill laced with fentanyl that killed a 19-year-old was sentenced in federal court Friday morning.
"These drug dealers are continuing to sell, they are continuing to take lives," said Stefanie Turner, whose son, Tucker Roe, died from a fentanyl poisoning.
Federal prosecutors put a stop to that for one dealer. Juan Ignacio Soria Gamez was sentenced to 13 years in prison, ordered to three years of supervised release and pay restitution during that time, and must participate in substance abuse and mental health treatment programs.
"Together we’ve all taken another fentanyl dealer off the streets," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Marshall said.
Gamez admitted to selling a fentanyl-laced pill that killed Tucker Roe in 2021. Becky White, whose son died of a fentanyl poisoning just six months before Tucker, claimed Gamez was the dealer who killed her son.
"Although there wasn’t enough evidence to bring up as federal charges, he knows, he knows he sold that pill to Cameron, and he continued to sell pills," White said.
In federal court, Gamez said he was young, dumb, and on drugs at the time and was selling to support his own addiction.
- Leander ISD teen dies of suspected fentanyl poisoning: WCSO
- Suspected fentanyl dealer accused of killing someone arrested
- Fentanyl crisis: Parents of Leander ISD teen who died from suspected poisoning warn others about drug
Judge Robert Pitman responded and said he had no doubt of Gamez’s guilt, knowledge, and culpability, and delivered a stern warning to others.
"The warning was we will give you an appropriate sentence if you engage in this type of activity, we’ll give you the maximum we can give you under the law," Marshall said.
On Monday, Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza expressed a different view on how to address the overdose crisis.
"We are never going to arrest and prosecute our way out of this crisis, but if we are able to increase access to information and tools that save lives like naloxone and fentanyl test strips, we can greatly reduce the risk of death in our community," Garza said.
Garza’s statement didn’t sit well with Tucker’s mother.
"We are tired of the loss of human life," Turner said.
Turner brought up Garza’s position Friday morning.
"I’m appalled that that is the recommendation. I’m appalled for these angels, they deserve better, they are more than a statistic," Turner said.
A spokesman for the District Attorney declined to say if Garza had used a new state law to charge fentanyl dealers with murder, but FOX 7 was told the District Attorney’s office is part of a regional task force to stop the suppliers and dealers of the poison.
Turner, while she wants tougher prosecutions, said the community also needs to be involved.
"Education and awareness is number one priority."
As of August 2023, Travis County had the highest rate of overdose deaths in the state of Texas.