Amid fentanyl arrests, advocates maintain education is key in battle against synthetic opioid

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Another domino has fallen in Carrollton’s juvenile fentanyl overdose saga.

It’s news that came from the Justice Department this week, announcing the arrest of 18-year-old Julio Gonzales, Jr. and 19-year-old Adrian Martinez-Leon, roommates who investigators said were a top source of supply in a case that’s led to at least 14 overdoses among middle and high school students in Carrollton-Farmer’s Branch ISD.

It’s a move celebrated by advocates, though many say it’s just one step in the war on the synthetic opioid.

“I think it’s great, but the problem’s not solved,” said Tina Crawford.

It’s a mission Crawford joined after her husband, Brent Crawford, died in 2021.

“He was one of a kind. He had the heart of a giant and a smile bigger than Texas. He was the kind of guy who would go feed the homeless, help the little old lady across the street, helped a bride down the aisle. He would do anything for anybody,” she said.

Crawford said her husband and business partner at their Southlake wedding venue was a recovering heroin addict.

She said the 31-year-old had only recently relapsed when overdosed after unknowingly taking a fatal dose of fentanyl.

“That’s when I realized I had to fight to spread awareness so that others can be educated,” said Crawford.

In honor of the anniversary of his death, Crawford, along with the North Texas Fentanyl Coalition, will hold the second annual Fentanyl and Overdose Awareness Forum at the Grapevine Convention Center on Monday, July 24th at 5 p.m.

“This event is, on a broad scale, how can we educate people to what is really going on in the DFW area,” she said.

The free event aims to draw hundreds of parents, spouses, siblings and more to hear from DEA officials, fentanyl addicts and those who’ve lost loved ones.

“The number one thing how we can fight this is by not being afraid to say fentanyl or heroin. And to get rid of the mindset of my spouse wouldn’t do that, my child would never do that,” said Crawford.

It’s a conversation Crawford said will stretch from addiction to recovery and the resources available. Because while arrests and seizures matter, she said she believes education is key.

“I’m never going to get my husband back. He’s never going to come back. And my friends, they’re never going to get their children back. Ok? Those precious parents in Carrollton aren’t going to get their children back, but we fight, we do interviews like this, we do awareness events because we don’t want you to have to sit in a funeral home planning your loved one’s funeral,” she said.

According to a fentanyl dashboard recently released by the state, fentanyl poisonings killed more than 2,100 Texans in 2022. That accounts for nearly 45 percent of all drug-related deaths.

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