Texas man found with 740 fentanyl-laced pills linked to 2 deaths
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Texas man found with 740 fentanyl-laced pills linked to 2 deaths

Texas man found with 740 fentanyl-laced pills linked to 2 deaths

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A Texas man has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for trafficking fentanyl in connection with the deaths of two other men, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release Wednesday.

Texas man found with 740 fentanyl-laced pills, loaded firearm

Court documents show that William Jake Childers, 39, of Midland, participated in a drug trafficking conspiracy that involved the deaths of two West Texas men, a news release said. An investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency found he was selling counterfeit M-30 oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl.

“Unfortunately, the poison these dealers are selling is killing more and more Americans,” Towanda R. Thorne-James, special agent in charge of the DEA’s El Paso office, said in a news release. “The public needs to know that the DEA is investigating these drug-related deaths. And if you kill someone by selling your poison, you will be held accountable for that death.”

Childers was stopped for a traffic stop in October 2023 by Ranger Police Department officers. During a search of the vehicle, officers discovered 740 M-30 pills laced with fentanyl and a loaded firearm.

More: Travis County has the highest rate of fentanyl deaths in Texas. Why is Austin a hot spot?

Fentanyl-laced pills linked to two deaths

In May 2023, Midland law enforcement found an unconscious man in a home who died after being taken to a nearby hospital. The cause of death was determined to be acute fentanyl intoxication, and investigators linked the suspicious pills to Childers’ human trafficking conspiracy.

A year earlier, in May 2022, Winkler County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a similar incident where a man was found dead in Kermit’s residence. Autopsy results confirmed the cause of death was fentanyl toxicity, and the investigation revealed that Childers and the victim had communicated about selling pills.

More: How many people will die from fentanyl in the US in 2023?

“This office has once again prosecuted a case where fentanyl traffickers valued quick profits over human life,” Jaime Esparza, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, said in a news release. “Sadly, fentanyl continues to plague our communities and take the lives of our friends, neighbors and loved ones. My office remains committed to vigorously prosecuting fentanyl traffickers and seeking harsh sentences as a deterrent to these criminals.”

Jessi Cortez, a co-defendant in the case, remains in custody pending sentencing, according to a news release.