What happened: According to Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell, the Central Texas Task Force Overdose Investigation Team was formed May 1. The group includes officials from the DEA, Homeland Security, the National Guard, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and other regional law enforcement offices. Each member agency will contribute personnel to the task force. The detective from the sheriff’s office will assist in investigations to locate those responsible for fentanyl poisonings.
The backstory: The recent task force creation is part of the county's larger efforts to address fentanyl distribution and deploy Narcan throughout the region, as officials have noticed a spike in overdose deaths.
- From January-April, Williamson County’s justices of the peace averaged two fentanyl overdose cases per week.
- Williamson County Emergency Medical Services administered 420 doses of Narcan in 2022.
- According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 70,601 deaths involving synthetic opioids—primarily fentanyl—were reported in the U.S. in 2021.
“If our nation's not going to take the lead here and stop this, then we're going to take the lead here in Williamson County, and we're going to find people, and we're going to hold them accountable,” Gravell said.
The details: The new task force has three goals, which include educating the public about fentanyl, prosecuting those accused of distributing fentanyl and offering rehabilitation services to communities.
- Each task force member will be sworn in as a federal law enforcement officer.
- Task force members will respond to scenes where a death is suspected to be a result of a fentanyl overdose.
- Those suspected of committing fentanyl-related offenses will be charged locally and federally.