Law enforcement agencies detail joint focus on major fentanyl dealers

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg joined with leaders of federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies today to announce strategies to curtail the recent surge in fentanyl overdoses by ensuring prison for those who profit from creating addicts and ensuring treatment for those addicts.

Fentanyl, a powerful opioid up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, caused nearly half of the 1,096 fatal overdoses in Harris County last year and 74% of those among 14- to 25-year-olds. The victims in such cases are often unaware they are taking illicitly manufactured fentanyl because of the increased presence of “counterfeit drugs.”

As a result, Ogg has created a Major Narcotics unit within her office specifically assigned to work major cases with liaisons from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Houston Police Department and other law-enforcement agencies, a collaboration she lauded. 

The unit’s primary goal will be to target commercial traffickers responsible for fentanyl overdoses for the most serious punishments. That includes the possibility of murder charges when appropriate.

“My staff meets nearly every day with the victims and families of this fentanyl epidemic, and these meetings are heartbreaking,” Ogg said. “I am confident we can save lives by targeting the profiteers of death for the most severe punishment the law allows and diverting addicts into treatment instead of prison.”