AUSTIN – Legislation co-authored by State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) and filed by State Representative Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) to combat the fentanyl crisis is already having a big local impact less than two months after becoming law. House Bill 6, which was passed by the legislature earlier this year and went into effect on September 1, 2023, increased penalties for the manufacturing and distribution of fentanyl, allowing fentanyl dealers to be charged with murder in certain circumstances.
“Every lawmaker in the state of Texas has lost a constituent to fentanyl poisoning,” Landgraf said. “It is heartbreaking to open up the paper and see another young face that has passed away as a result of this deadly substance. No parent should have to bury their child.”
On Saturday, using the new law that went into effect on September 1, the Odessa Police Department arrested an 18-year-old man on suspicion of murder after officers discovered he sold fentanyl to a 16-year-old who died of a fentanyl overdose earlier this month.
“Fentanyl is being treated like a poison because that’s what it is,” Landgraf continued. “Like anthrax, fentanyl is lethal in incredibly small amounts, meaning it needs to be classified and prosecuted unlike any other drug. That is why fentanyl dealers, like the one arrested in Odessa, should be charged with murder if someone they’ve sold the drug to dies.”
HB 6 increased the penalty for manufacturing or delivering less than one gram of fentanyl to a third degree felony, raising the penalty to a murder if a death occurs. HB 6 also defines unlawful possession with intent to deliver such a substance as organized criminal activity to give law enforcement and prosecutors more tools to combat the crime.
“I’m grateful to the Odessa police officials who made this arrest, the prosecutors who filed the murder charge, and the medical examiners for their thankless work,” Landgraf concluded.
Fentanyl-related deaths reported in Texas increased 89% from 2020 to 2021. Since March 2021, as part of Operation Lone Star, the Texas Department of Public Safety has seized more than 434 million lethal doses of fentanyl across the state, enough fentanyl to kill every man, woman and child in the county. In addition to coauthoring HB 6, Landgraf has worked to increase funding for border security in each of the last two legislative sessions. These funds, which total $5.1 billion for 2024-2025, are being used to station Texas military and DPS Troopers on the border, build a wall, install floating buoys and razor wire, and operate thousands of cameras along with other border security measures.