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Richland Student Media

Richland Student Media

Dallas


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Richland Chronicle 5/07/24
Richland Chronicle 5/07/24

US Attorney discusses fentanyl, violent crime crisis

Drug is now the leading cause of death in America for people under 50
Constable Deanna Hammond, left, and U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton at the Fentanyl and Violent Crime presentation at El Centro campus. (Staff Photo/Aislyn Smith)

“Just a little salt grain is enough to kill you,” said Constable Deanna Hammond, who joined U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton for a presentation titled “Deadly Threats to Young Americans: The Fentanyl Crisis and Violent Crime.”
Dallas College El Centro campus hosted the event on Feb. 20, with a panel discussion by Simonton (U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas) and Hammond (Dallas County Precinct 2 Constable). Both took questions submitted from the crowd at the end and brought insight on what is currently the world’s leading cause of overdoses.
Many people today wonder why or how the fentanyl crisis has become so bad in the past couple of years. “The Mexican drug cartels, who are the ones who originate the fentanyl that’s up here see it as a real big profit maker,” Simonton said. One of the reasons the Mexican drug cartels like it is because it’s the “most addictive substance I think has ever been on seen on the streets,” Simonton added.
Part of the equation lies opposite of the distributor and at the user, while the U.S. is still in an opioid pandemic, Simonton said. “The desire among people here to buy illegal pills is very high,” she said.
“Not everyone who takes fentanyl dies the first time. If you don’t die the first time you take it, you get addicted instantly,” she said, “There are some people who know they’re buying fentanyl, and they do it because they are addicted. They can’t stop.”
“Talk to your kids, whether they be teenagers or young adults or even younger than teenagers, about taking pills. It’s not from a pharmacy, it’s not prescribed by a doctor, it is deceptive. It looks like one thing, but it very likely is something different that can kill them instantly,” said Simonton.
Both panelists talked about their past, present and future actions toward helping with the fentanyl crisis. Simonton mainly prosecutes offenders for drug and violent crimes. She goes further and helps by being a part of pro- grams and doing discussions.
“I have done three webinars, specifically for school staff across my district, which is 100 counties,” Simonton said. “I have hundreds of people from the schools sign on to the webinars. In the last webinar I had, I had the head of the DEA for our region. I had the chief medical officer at Parkland, and then I spoke,” she said.
Hammond talked about what she is doing at the street level to help with the crisis. Hammond serves eight cities in Dallas County and she occasionally deals with liens, divorce papers and evictions. She does not answer calls to police service, so she helps her community further by going to town halls and talking at schools.
“I start, believe it or not, at the elementary level because this is where it starts,” Hammond said.
In violent crime, Glock switches, which can turn a gun into a machine gun, were also discussed.
“Glock switches can be manufactured on a 3D printer, and they’re just a little thing that makes a semi-automatic gun a fully automatic gun. So, it’s incredibly deadly,” Simonton said. “It’s been a huge push by the Dallas Police Department to combat this as well in conjunction with the ATF.”
The event covered a lot of ground, even touching on topics such as domestic terrorism. “The national security, including domestic terrorism and domestic extremism, is the other top priority, I would say, for our government besides criminal and violent crime,” said Simonton.

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