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Austin Police say they haven't found source of opioids linked to overdose surge

A container of Narcan sits on a table
Patricia Lim
KUT News
Authorities said Narcan, a drug used to revere the effects of opioid overdoses, saved dozens of lives during Austin's overdose surge.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story said APD arrested five people in connection with the fatal overdoses. The department later clarified that the individuals arrested are not currently linked to those cases.

The Austin Police Department announced a handful of drug arrests Monday, but police still haven't found the source of fentanyl related to a spate of overdoses that occurred last week.

In a statement Monday, the department said it had made five arrests in connection with fentanyl-laced crack cocaine, suggesting the suspects were connected to the overdoses last week.

Lt. Patrick Eastlick addressed that potential connection Tuesday, saying the arrests were part of an ongoing investigation, but not immediately connected to last week's overdoses.

"The individuals arrested during these investigations are not linked as of right now to any of the overdose victims," he said. "And the purpose of these operations was to try to identify dealers responsible and the sources of the narcotics which caused the overdoses.”

Eastlick said the department is still trying to track down the source of the fentanyl, which APD says was found in methamphetamine, crack cocaine and marijuana. The department is offering up to $1,000 for leads in that investigation. Residents can submit a tip to APD through the Capital Area Crime Stoppers.

Gary Lewis, Denise Horton and Ronnie Mims were charged with possession of a controlled substance, and Kanady Rimijo and Marcellus Barron were charged with delivery of a controlled substance. APD arrested another suspect last week in a crackdown on drug sales in the downtown area following the overdoses.

APD representatives said the substance in question was crack cocaine that also tested positive for fentanyl — the combination they believe is primarily to blame for the string of 79 overdoses that Austin-Travis County EMS responded to between April 29 and May 3. Authorities said it was the largest local overdose surge since 2015.

The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating the deaths of nine people who died of suspected overdoses in Travis County. Fentanyl was present in preliminary autopsy results for each of those individuals, and cocaine was present in the results for eight, said Hector Nieto, a Travis County public information officer.

Additionally, KT Musselman, Williamson County justice of the peace, said two overdose deaths that occurred in Williamson County last week may or may not have been connected to the outbreak of overdoses in Travis County.

Olivia Aldridge is KUT's health care reporter. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X @ojaldridge.
Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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