GREGG COUNTY, Texas (KETK) — Gregg County Chief Deputy Craig Harrington said his department knows fentanyl is in their area, but hasn’t been “lucky enough” to get a large bust.
I-20 runs through several East Texas counties and drug busts mostly happen during traffic stops.
The Gregg County Sheriff’s Department said they don’t catch many traffickers, but when they do, it’s mostly being distributed in pill form.
“We sit on the I-20 corridor, you go I-20 going east to west, so anything coming out of Louisiana or Harrison County to get to Tyler has to go right through the middle of Kilgore and Longview,” said Harrington.
Other East Texas counties have a community task force, including Van Zandt County. In April, their leaders formed the group after a minor overdosed in their county.
“We will be strong and we will give our best to protect the children of this county,” said Tonda Curry, Van Zandt County District Attorney.
However, Harrington said he has not seen anything to that extent in his county.
“That’s not saying that they are not happening. It’s just so far we haven’t been lucky enough to get that large bust and we haven’t seen the mass overdoses, thank goodness,” said Harrington.
He is hoping to avoid what other counties are calling “crisis level.”
“I’m not gonna sit here and say that we are at a crisis level yet, but have we seen overdoses? Absolutely. Have we started to address those? Yes. Are we seeing more than we used to? Yes,” said Harrington.
Harrington acknowledged that there is an opioid problem in his area that is leaving long-lasting effects on mental health.
“We have a huge mental health crisis here. All over America but especially here in Gregg County,” he said.
This leads to more crime that Harrington says puts his deputies in danger.
“People under the influence are extremely unpredictable, especially anyone under an opioid influence, extremely violent. Sometimes they feel no pain, so as an enforcement aspect, we have to look at officer safety,” said Harrington.
Harrington urges parents to talk to their children about fentanyl. Fentanyl is now being advertised on the street as other drugs like ecstasy and Percocet.