SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) — “The size of a pin head can kill you,” said Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith.
KETK News has been following the ongoing fentanyl crisis across the United States. In November, we brought you a special report on the growing problem, and last week, a huge bust was made after police pulled over a suspicious vehicle in Smith County.
“A large white van with Mexico plates pulling a trailer, which was hauling several motorcycles and another vehicle,” said Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith.
The white van was pulled over near the Barber Road exit on I-20 for not using the blinker while changing lanes, leading the K9 deputy to discover 42,000 fentanyl pills.
“When he opened the job box and moved the battery out of the way, the battery was very light, and he could tell the battery had been hollowed out,” said Smith.
Erik Angeles was then arrested. Smith added that fentanyl trafficking is becoming a deadly problem in East Texas.
“That could have been 42,000 deaths right there in the United States,” said Smith.
Last week in Smith County, a young person in their early 20s died from a fentanyl overdose, according to the sheriff.
Smith said the drug is coming mainly from the Mexico border and is manufactured by the drug cartels. Back in December of 2021 during our visit to the Mexico border, we witnessed the issue firsthand.
“We’ve got to stop the fentanyl coming across the Mexican border,” said Smith.
He said fentanyl is a manufactured drug that is shipped from China to Mexico where cartels then press it into pills, without any quality control.
“It’s an epidemic, it is and I don’t care what you hear from anyone else I can tell you that it is a problem,” said Smith.
He said the most common distinguishing factors of fentanyl pills they have seen in East Texas are white, blue or rainbow-colored and they have an “M” or number “30” stamped on them. Smith said the person who died in Smith County had a pill that had the number “30” on it.
Fentanyl is a highly addictive and lethal drug. Experts say it is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Law enforcement officials believe that fentanyl pills are made colorful to entice children and young people.