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Two Houston men charged with murder under new Texas law

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Drug Charges |

The Texas legislature recently passed a law allowing authorities to impose murder charges against any dealer or distributor who sold fentanyl that led to the death of another person. On the day after the new law became effective, an 18-year-old Houston man died after he swallowed pills that had been laced with fentanyl by the dealer.

The allegations

Reportedly, the victim had been battling drug addiction, including time in a rehabilitation center. Police say that he purchased pills laced with fentanyl on the day before his birthday.

Investigators were able to trace the immediate source of the altered pills by examining the victim’s cell phone. According to the district attorney, cell phones often provide the best clues to the identity of the seller. The conversation between the seller and the victim is often the last item on the cell phone.

New law

The new law, known as House Bill 6, allows prosecutors to seek murder charges for anyone who provides a fatal dose of fentanyl to a person who later dies. The measure changes previously existing law to classify fentanyl overdoses as “poisonings,” suggesting that they are deliberate.

Proponents of the new law say it’s necessary to combat an alarming rise in the number of overdose deaths related to opioid abuse. Fentanyl, a particularly powerful opioid drug, has become increasingly available in Texas, and is linked to many overdoses. In 2017, Harris County saw 49 fentanyl-related deaths. Six years later, in 2023, the number of such deaths jumped to 478.

Critics of the new law say that it will do nothing to reduce the abuse of opioids. Indeed, some states that have adopted similar laws have seen their overdose fatalities rise after the laws went into effect. In many of these cases, relatives and friends who were present when the victim overdosed end up facing criminal charges after losing their loved one. This can tear families apart.

Texas law was already harsh in its treatment of those charged with drug crimes. House Bill 6 can make drug-related charges even more serious.


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