Fentanyl prevention efforts in Galveston County, man sets up Narcan vending machine

Authorities and civilians in Galveston County are working to reverse the recent rise in overdose deaths across Texas and the country.

"Cartels are ruthless," said Ikechi Chuku, Resident Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Galveston Office. "They’ll try any means necessary to flood our streets with drugs."

According to Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officials, they’ve recently seized large amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl.

"Here in our division, we’ve seized over 670 pounds of powdered fentanyl, as well as 230 pounds of fentanyl pills," said Chucku. "We’re seeing fentanyl-laced pills all over the place. We’ve identified pill mills in the Greater Galveston and Houston area. It’s definitely a major concern to us."

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"Our fentanyl problem is coming from Mexico, it’s coming across the Mexican border," said Daniel Comeaux, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Houston Division. "It’s linked to China-based drug trafficking organizations. We’re on top of it. We know where it’s coming from. We’re attacking the problem very aggressively and we’re working to keep everyone safe."

In November 2021, Sarah Chittum’s son Seth bought a pill from a friend he thought was Xanax. Diagnosed with PTSD, after being the victim of a shooting, Chittum believes her son took the pill to help him go to sleep. Tragically, the 21-year-old was found dead in bed the morning after taking the pill laced with a lethal dose of fentanyl. 

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"I may of thought he would drink too much, or get in a car wreck, or every worry that a parent has," said Chittum. "I never worried about fentanyl because I didn’t know it existed.  Anybody that does any kind of drug, it should be a mistake. It should be a mistake they learn from. It shouldn’t be a mistake they die from."

Now five years sober from heroin addiction, Les McColgin has created Gulf Coast Outreach Services. In addition to a billboard, McColgin has set up four vending machines across Galveston County filled with free boxes of Narcan. He hopes people will take the Narcan home to use in an emergency to reverse the effects of an overdose.

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"I’m on a mission to save as many lives as I can," said McColgin. "I wasted 50 years of my life. Now, as everyone else is retiring, I’m just cranking up. In the six months we’ve been doing this, we’ve had eight people contact the location and tell them that the product was used to save somebody’s life."

According to the DEA, six out of every 10 pills on the street contain potentially lethal doses of fentanyl.

"Don’t ever say not my child, because with that mindset yours will probably be next," said Chittum.

Authorities are working to hold drug dealers accountable that are lacing pills with fentanyl.

"If we can prove anyone has had a part in that death, you will go to jail for this," said Comeaux.