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Rusk County Sheriff Discusses Spread of Fentanyl in East Texas

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) – The fentanyl problems aren’t just happening along the southern border or in another state; varying amounts have been found in eastern Texas.

The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public that the deadly drug has appeared frequently in their county over the past year.

“A dose of this stuff will ruin your life, if you don’t take it. If everyone stops doing it, there’s no market for it. It’s not going to happen,” Rusk County Sheriff Johnwayne Valdez says.

Quantities of fentanyl were seized in Rusk County during criminal investigations in 2022.

“Time and time again we keep coming back with traces of fentanyl or some amount of the weight of (the seized drug) was fentanyl,” the sheriff said.

In an effort to promote public safety and awareness, Valdez is updating the public on how suspected fentanyl was found and confiscated in Rusk County.

Embodying the battle between law enforcement, a white SUV sits in the parking lot of the sheriff’s office. The vehicle was pulled over during a traffic stop earlier in the year and during the search officers found eight pounds of fentanyl inside.

“We thought he had consumed eight pounds of ecstasy. It was all fentanyl,” says Valdez.

And there is considerable risk for his officers when searching for suspects.

“You come into contact with this stuff, or just inhale it while breathing normally, it can knock you unconscious,” he says.

Exposure to fentanyl can be fatal because it can be absorbed into the body through inhalation or skin contact.

Valdez says fentanyl is distributed in various forms.

“They’ll disguise it to look like candy, like an ibuprofen pill, an Advil pill,” he says.

All Rusk County deputies are equipped with a supply of narcan to counter the effects of fentanyl should they come into contact with it.

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