CARROLLTON, Texas — Nine North Texas teenagers have overdosed, including three who died, from fentanyl pills tied to a drug house near R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton, according to authorities.
The names of the victims haven't been released by authorities, but details about the cases were revealed in a federal criminal complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court.
The 10 overdoses -- one of the victims overdosed twice -- happened between Sept. 18, 2022, and Feb. 1, 2023, and the victims ranged in age from 13 to 17 years old, according to a federal affidavit filed last week in U.S District Court.
Two adults, Luis Navarrete and Magaly Mejia Cano, face a charge of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in the case, the affidavit said.
Navarrete and Cano are accused of conspiring to sell "M30" fentanyl pills to teenagers near Turner High School and Dewitt Perry Middle School in Carrollton, according to the affidavit.
Carrollton police identified eight juvenile dealers "with moderate to significant involvement in the distribution" of the M30 pills, which are known to contain fentanyl, the affidavit said.
The juvenile dealers are 14-16 years old and students at Turner.
As detectives investigated the case, they began conducting surveillance in early January at Navarrete's and Cano's home on Highland Drive, about five blocks north of Turner and two blocks southeast of Dewitt Perry Middle School.
Investigators saw Navarrete and Cano "conduct hand-to-hand transactions with multiple individuals," and many of those transactions were with Turner students, the affidavit said.
One of the overdose victims, a 14-year-old girl who survived, told investigators that she received an M30 pill from a 16-year-old dealer. She also said she had purchased pills directly from Navarrete, according to the affidavit.
“There is no such thing as a stereotypical drug user," DEA Dallas Special Agent in Charge Eduardo Chavez said. "Unfortunately, this feeling of, 'I just want to try it once and see how it feels', you cannot do that with these things. It is too dangerous, too fatal. Unfortunately, the threshold is so small.”
On another occasion, one of the teen dealers was spotted possibly packaging drugs at Navarrete's home, the affidavit said. The teen then talked to Turner High School, where a school resource officer found him in the bathroom "in the possession of a razor blade and 'snort straw' with residue," according to the affidavit.
The teen told the officer the paraphernalia was being used to ingest a "perc pill," also known as an M30.
Chavez says parents should be concerned not just over the blue M30 pills but any pill that wasn't prescribed. Sixty percent of pills sold on the street contain fentanyl, Chavez said.
“You’d be surprised what just a sit-at-the-kitchen table conversation might bring once you start asking some of these hard questions," he said.
The officer later met with the teen's mother and searched the teen's phone, finding messages between the teen and Navarrete. The messages confirmed that Navarrete had supplied the teen, as investigators observed at Navarrete's home.
During later surveillance at Navarrete's home, a detective saw another "hand-to-hand transaction" at the front door, the affidavit said.
The person who received the transaction was then stopped on a traffic-related warrant. When they were taken to jail, they were found to be in possession of two M30 pills. The pills later tested positive for fentanyl, according to the affidavit.
The person who had the pills "immediately started talking about Navarrete," the affidavit said.
Messages between the person and Navarrete showed that Navarrete told them the pills would be available at his house and that a female, later identified as Cano, would have them.
The complaint says the pills are manufactured and sold wholesale for about $1 each but by the time they make it to the street and students, the price is $10.
“You probably have that change in your car console and that is unfortunately some deadly change if it were turned into a fake pill on the street that you consume," he said. "It is unfortunately just pure evil. It is pure seeking of greed and unfortunately our communities are paying for it.”
The criminal complaint against Navarrete and Cano was filed on Thursday, and signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Harris Toliver.
On Monday, federal prosecutors filed a motion for detention to keep Navarrete and Cano in custody while their case is pending.
Leigha Simonton, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, called Navarrete and Canon's alleged actions "despicable."
"To deal fentanyl is to knowingly imperil lives," Simonton said. "To deal fentanyl to minors — naive middle and high school students — is to shatter futures."
"We can never replace the three teenagers whose lives were lost, nor can we heal the psychological scars of those who survived their overdoses. But we can take action to ensure these individuals are never allowed to hand a pill to a child again.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted about the case Monday, saying state legislators want to make fentanyl poisoning a murder charge.
"The fentanyl crisis plaguing our country has tragic consequences," Abbott said. "Too many Texas families have lost children to deadly fentanyl. Their loss will not be in vain."
“We must come together as a community to solve this problem that is endangering our children,” said Brian Moersch, Interim Superintendent of Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. “We strongly encourage adults to engage in open conversations with children about the risks of drugs, especially fentanyl.”
The district said Narcan was obtained in October for all district facilities. The district said it started random canine searches implemented at secondary campuses.