Fentanyl-related overdose deaths prompt agencies to form task force
HAYS COUNTY, Texas - A fourth student in Hays CISD has died this summer from a suspected fentanyl overdose.
On Thursday, representatives from local law enforcement and the DEA held a press conference to announce new measures to fight the growing crisis.
"That drug has made it here to Kyle, and it’s harming our citizens but specifically our youth," said Kyle Police Department (KPD) Chief Jeff Barnett.
According to KPD, the problem started becoming more rampant locally at the end of 2020. In 2022 alone, 25 overdoses and seven deaths have occurred in the City of Kyle.
Law enforcement say to be wary of a blue pill marketed as Percocet with the letter "M."
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"Don’t gamble with your life," said Tyson Hodges, assistant special agent in charge at the Austin DEA office.
Hodges showed how similar a real pill and counterfeit pill looked at the press briefing Thursday.
Because of the increase in overdose deaths, the Kyle Police Department, DEA and other local agencies have formed a task force to track down criminals that are responsible and raise public awareness.
So far, two related arrests have been made. One of the men was found with 400 counterfeit fentanyl-laced Percocet pills in his possession
"Those were ready for deadly distribution in our community at the time of his arrest," said Chief Barnett.
Janel Rodriguez’s 15-year-old son, Noah, a sophomore at Johnson High School, was one of the four summer deaths.
"By the time we got to the friend’s house he had already passed," said Rodriguez.
He died in August from an overdose just days after his little brother, Mordecai, was born.
"He knew him for a good two weeks," said Rodriguez.
Noah left behind his newest sibling along with two others.
"The two younger ones won’t get to know him, and my four-year-old, she misses him, she understands what happened," said Rodriguez. "That’s probably the hardest thing for me right now is seeing her struggle."
Noah, 15, is pictured with his two sisters. (Janel Rodriguez )
Rodriguez described her son as caring, genuine and soft-hearted. He was an athlete and was also an honor roll student.
She did note possible signs that parents should be aware of before tragedy happens.
For Noah, that included changes in his grades, lack of interest in football and different friends he started hanging out with.
Hays CISD is producing and releasing a series of educational videos featuring local families affected by the fentanyl crisis. They are also providing helpful information for parents on their website. The videos and other resources can be found here.
The school district recently added Narcan to its school nurses’ offices. In just the last week, at least two Hays CISD students were administered Narcan. One suspected fentanyl poisoning was on campus and the other was at a student’s home, according to an email from Hays CISD.
Hays County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for any information leading to the arrest of a fentanyl distributor.