Courts

One of the Suppliers in Plano Heroin Overdose Case Gets Three Decades in Federal Prison

Heroin is involved in around 20% of all opioid-related deaths, according to the CDC.
Heroin is involved in around 20% of all opioid-related deaths, according to the CDC. shutterstock
It all started a little more than two years ago after a minor nearly died from a heroin overdose, and it ended Thursday with a 30-year sentence in a federal prison for supplying the heroin that eventually led to the medical emergency.

On Thursday, U.S. Judge Sean D. Jordan in the Northern District of Texas sentenced Jose Antonio Carreto, a 31-year-old man from Dallas, to three decades behind bars, according to court documents.

In March, Carreto’s brother, Isauro Carreto-Cruz, received a 78-month prison for his part in the drug dealing scheme.

In June 2021, a jury convicted both brothers of conspiracy and distribution of heroin resulting in serious bodily injury, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine, and possession with intent to distribute and distribution of heroin resulting in serious bodily injury aiding and abetting.

The minor’s name isn’t listed in court documents, but they survived after being administered a dose of Narcan, a medicine used in emergency situations to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. After the incident, the minor cooperated with authorities.

Once the Plano Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Drug Enforcement Administration launched an investigation, they tracked down the immediate supplier, a 21-year-old Plano resident named Kolton Watson. From there, they identified Watson’s suppliers, Carreto and Caretto-Cruz.

"We are seeing a drastic increase in illegal drugs poisoned with illegal fentanyl that are causing many deaths around the country." – U.S. Attorney Brit Featherstone

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A Plano police officer stopped the brothers while they were driving and found heroin and methamphetamines in the vehicle. At one point, the Plano Police Department received an anonymous tip that the brothers had arranged a drive-by shooting to kill the minor, the Plano Star Courier reported in June 2021.

In a press release Thursday, U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said the case “highlights the dangers of illegal drug use.”

Featherstone added, “We are seeing a drastic increase in illegal drugs poisoned with illegal fentanyl that are causing many deaths around the country. We will take all action within our power to investigate and prosecute those who spread this poison in our communities.”

In 2020, the number of heroin-related deaths around the country topped 13,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That number was 7% lower than the year before, but it still marked a sevenfold increase when compared with 1999. The CDC reported that one in five opioid-related deaths in 2020 involved heroin.

Earlier this year, the CDC released preliminary data showing that at least 4,813 people had died of drug overdoses last year in Texas, a 15.9% increase when compared with 2020. Meanwhile, the total number of lethal drug overdoses nationwide nearly topped 107,000, a 14.9% spike that also broke previous records.

In the mid- and late-1990s, Plano saw a rash of heroin overdose deaths. Between 1995 and 1999, at least 19 young people in Plano died of heroin overdoses, which attracted widespread national media coverage.
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Patrick Strickland is the former news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's worked as a senior reporter at Al Jazeera English. His reporting has appeared in the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.

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