Texas county official: Major drug problems come from southern border

A pistol and 154 pounds of heroin worth at least $50 million are displayed at a Drug Enforcement Administration news conference, Tuesday, May 19, 2015 in New York. AP Photo

Texas county official: Major drug problems come from southern border

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(The Center Square) – Like many communities across the country, Lavaca County in Texas is seeing significant problems with illegal drugs. The county’s justice of the peace told The Center Square the problems are border-related.

“Lavaca County has a serious drug problem. It’s coming from the border, and we need to do something about it, now,” Justice Steve Greenwell said.

Greenwell is sounding the alarm after a major drug bust occurred last week where enough drugs were seized to kill the entire county population twice over.

Fayette Sheriff’s Office deputies engaged in a high-speed pursuit that ended in Lavaca County, where they arrested a Lavaca County man and seized 11 kilograms of methamphetamine. He’s since been released on bond, pending trial.

Lavaca County Today reported the highspeed car chase began near Schulenburg, Texas, on Sept. 13 after the driver failed to comply with a traffic infraction stop. Schulenburg Police, and later the Lavaca County Sheriff’s Office, also engaged in pursuit.

A lethal dose of methamphetamine is estimated to be roughly 200 milligrams. Eleven kilos translates to enough meth to kill 55,000 people. “If that meth was laced with fentanyl, it could kill even more people,” Greenwell said.

“One carload was enough to kill more than double the population of our entire county,” he said. “What’s more troubling is what isn’t being caught.”

“This one drug bust should frighten everyone,” Greenwell said. “A seizure of this size in a county our size should ring alarm bells loudly in the ears of all Lavaca County residents.”

Fayette County Sheriff Keith Korenek told the local news outlet that the illegal “narcotics were headed straight in and through our local communities and small counties to likely be distributed.” His deputies, he said, “will continue to work tirelessly to keep these narcotics off of our local streets and out of the hands of our children.”

The counties of Fayette and Lavaca are comprised of mostly rural farming communities located roughly over an hour west of Houston. Hallettsville, the county seat of Lavaca, is in the middle of a major drug and human smuggling route along Highway 77, which heads north from Victoria, a major hub for cartel activity, Goliad Sheriff Roy Boyd has explained to The Center Square. Boyd worked in Victoria County for years and created an Operation Lone Star Task Force involved in interdicting cartel activity along multiple routes from the border. Lavaca County is roughly 3.5 hours from the Texas-Mexico border.

Prior to being elected Justice of the Peace, Greenwell served for 25 years in what is now the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He was also an HSI supervisor assigned to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Major Drug Squad unit, a Border Patrol agent and he served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Greenwell described the impact meth has on users based on his experience working with the DEA. He said a “hit” of meth can sustain a powerful high that lasts roughly 12 to 16 hours. A “20 sack,” referring to a $20 bag, has enough meth to provide between 4 and 6 hits to sustain 12-16-hour highs each, he said.

“One gram of meth produces about three and a half 20 sacks. With 1,000 grams in a kilogram, before the meth is even cut up and sold, 1 kilo could produce 3,500 20 sacks or about 17,500 hits per kilo. Multiply that by eleven kilos and you get 192,500 hits. That’s before the meth is cut up with fillers and sold on the street,” he said.

Of the 26,696 DEA arrests in fiscal 2020, “the most common drug type involved was methamphetamine (8,783 arrests), followed by powder cocaine (4,474 arrests),” the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports.

This fiscal year, Border Patrol agents alone seized enough lethal drugs to kill 6 billion people, enough to kill the U.S. population 19 times, The Center Square previously reported.

Fiscal year through June, CBP agents seized 22,000 pounds of fentanyl at ports of entry nationwide, according to most recent data. They also seized 175,000 pounds of methamphetamine and over 70,000 pounds of cocaine.

What Fayatte Sheriff’s Office seized in one traffic stop somehow made its way from the border, Greenwell said, and ended up in small rural county and was enough to kill more than twice its population.

“The drug war is real,” he said, “and cartels are bringing it into our country and waging war against our neighbors, our children and grandchildren. They’re also targeting law enforcement and our law enforcement officers are under-resourced and equipped to respond.”

He says there’s action that can be taken in response, adding that when engaging in battle, “It’s not what we are fighting against, it is who we are fighting for.”

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