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Texas fentanyl dealer sentenced to 78 months in federal prison

AUSTIN (KXAN) – A federal judge sentenced Manuel Ramon Martinez, of Austin, to 78 months in prison on Friday for possession and intent to distribute fentanyl. Martinez will be sent to prison in January and won’t leave until at least 2028, according to federal records and his defense attorney.

Federal and local law enforcement arrested Martinez, 31, in February after searching his home, which contained about 1,120 pills laced with fentanyl, a 50 to 100 times more powerful synthetic opioids than morphine. Police also found two semi-automatic rifles, two handguns and more than $19,000 in cash, according to the federal complaint. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel oversaw Martinez’s case.

The federal complaint detailing Martinez’s arrest doesn’t tie him directly to any fentanyl-caused deaths, but it does credit the illegally prescribed pills and the powdered pills as The pill found in his apartment killed 17 people in Austin and surrounding cities between March 2020 and January 2021.

Fentanyl deaths have skyrocketed over the past three years in Central Texas and across the state and country. The growing death toll has caught the attention of state and federal leaders, who have increased penalties for drug trafficking and vowed to prevent more of it from entering the United States.

Cedar Park Police, including Sgt. Justin Miller, worked with federal agents to capture Martinez. Police and federal agents tracked down Martinez for months before he was arrested. Officers used an informant to buy oxycodone from Martinez on three separate occasions. Police tracked the sale, examined the pills and found them to contain fentanyl, according to a federal complaint.

Miller said his department will work with federal law enforcement to find people who “continue to poison the streets.”

“Get this fentanyl supplier, as well as his deadly drugs and guns off the streets, to be certain that life is not affected by an overdose or death,” Miller said in an email to KXAN. “The seriousness shown by the Federal Court hopes to stop those currently selling and prevent new distributors from engaging in this deadly business.”

In a comment to KXAN, Martinez’s attorney, George Lobb, compared the severity of Martinez’s sentence to the level of leniency given to Matthew Michanowicz, a 53-year-old man who left behind a bomb bag. homemade can’t explode at the Black Lives Matter 2020 rally in downtown Pittsburgh. Michanowicz pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered destructive device and a federal judge sentenced him on December 7 to six months of house arrest, three years of probation and time of service, follow Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Instead of probation, Manuel Martinez faces prison. The federal government’s failed war on drugs (aka the war on the poor and the disenfranchised) squanders resources that could be used to PREVENT real crime,” says Lobb. . “Perhaps if Manuel Martinez sold drugs to BLM protesters, the unions would agree to a sentence of light probation, or even dismissal.”

State efforts to prevent the death of fentanyl

State leaders have trained their sites on fentanyl. In July, Governor Greg Abbott signed a new law increasing penalties for making or selling drugs. State law currently provides for a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison for producing or transporting 4-200 grams of fentanyl. That penalty is a minimum of 15 years for 200-400 grams and a minimum of 20 years for more than 400 grams, according to Abbott’s office. Those penalty changes only affect cases in state court. Martinez’s case was handled in federal court, where judges use different sentencing principles.

Narcan for law enforcement

State and local officials have also pushed to get Narcan, a life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug, in the hands of law enforcement. Narcan is a brand commonly sold in nasal spray form; it is also commonly known as naloxone, the generic name for the drug.

KXAN previously reported on the 2019 law author of State Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston, funding Narcan for law enforcement. The law, which created the “Anti-Opium Funding Program,” had a limited impact. All $500,000 for the grant program has been spent on four agencies across the state, with 99% of the funds going to law enforcement in the Houston area, where Huffman’s senate district is located. According to Abbott’s office, the grant program will cease to exist in the 2022-23 financial year.

Abbott’s office said Narcan grants to law enforcement could still be made through the Criminal Justice Grants Program, but as of the end of August no department had filed applications for the fiscal year. main 2022.

Law enforcement offices have equipped officers without the aid of those state subsidies. All Cedar Park Police patrol officers have been carrying Narcan since 2018, according to a department spokesman. The Austin Police Department provided Narcan to its officers in October.

https://www.kxan.com/investigations/central-texas-fentanyl-dealer-sentenced-to-78-months-in-federal-prison/ Texas fentanyl dealer sentenced to 78 months in federal prison

DUSTIN JONES

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