GALLIANO, La. (AP) — Three Louisiana men have been accused of distributing pills that killed a 15-year-old girl and hospitalized a 16-year-old boy, and more arrests are possible in what investigators believe is a fentanyl ring, a sheriff said Tuesday.
Blayne Terrebonne, 18, of Larose, was arrested Thursday, the day deputies responded to a 4:30 a.m. report of the boy’s apparent overdose and, hours later, to the girl’s death at different homes in Galliano, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said in a news release.
Investigators believe both thought they were taking Percocet, a brand of oxycodone, said Capt. Brennan Matherne, a spokesperson for Webre.
Sergio Perez, 18, of Cut Off, was arrested Thursday night and Anthony Francis, 21, of Larose, on Monday, Webre said.
Each of the three was arrested on a charge of illegally distributing drugs. It was unknown if any of them had attorneys who could speak on their behalf.
The sheriff’s office released a photo from what investigators believe was a Snapchat ad for the drug, showing round blue pills imprinted with a capital M in a square, Matherne said. He said Percocet pills look similar but the fakes are more powdery and lack a dosage marking on the back.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, can be 50 times as powerful as the same amount of heroin.
Webre said the boy regained consciousnesses after two doses of Narcan and was taken to a hospital.
“When you use a drug you bought off the street, you are — quite literally — risking your life,” Webre said. “You are taking the word of a drug dealer on what the substance is. The question to ask yourself is whether the high you are seeking is worth dying over.”
Galliano is roughly 38 miles (61 kilometers) south of New Orleans, where the coroner reported in April that drug deaths last year were up 35% from 2020, and fentanyl was involved in nearly all of them.
Opioids were involved in 1,384 deaths statewide last year compared with 982 in 2020, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. A graph in an August report indicated that nearly 1,000 deaths in 2021 involved fentanyl, with all synthetic opioids accounting for nearly 1,200 deaths.
“Deaths involving fentanyl have increased by greater than 2000% since 2014,” the report stated.
The sheriff said more charges are possible against the arrested men. He did not say what charges are being considered.
Under Louisiana law, people can be charged with murder for distributing or dispensing an illegal drug that causes a death.
To follow AP coverage of synthetic opioids, go to https://apnews.com/hub/synthetic-opioids.