AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two men have been charged in federal court for selling and trafficking the drug fentanyl in Austin.
Police detectives began their investigation in early May after four people died from overdosing on illegal narcotics. A search of the cellphone of one of the deceased showed suspicious messaging from a contact named “Sly,” identified as Sylvester Orlowski, 26.
Also found on the deceased was a small portion of white powder on a plastic tube used for snorting and an amount of white powder wrapped in plastic from a cigarette pack. The powder tested positive for fentanyl.
Clayton Wimberley, 26, and Anthony Zane Paduano, 25, were identified through the Travis County Medical Examiner as two of the individuals who have died from the overdoses. Their obituaries said both formerly attended Westlake High School.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate similar to heroin, but can be 30 to 50 times more powerful. Medical professionals say the effects are similar to the pain relief of morphine. The drug can come in the form of a pill, powder, patch or liquid.
Police searched Orlowski’s home in the 6300 block of Oasis Drive on May 9 and found around 17.8 grams of fentanyl, drug paraphernalia for use and packaging, and money from the sale of fentanyl.
In an interview with police, Orlowski said he knew about the overdose death of his friend. Orlowski said he had to use Narcan to prevent the death of his friend earlier in the year. He also admitted to selling fentanyl to the victim prior to his death and told investigators the name of the person he buys the drug from, identified in an affidavit as Albert “Bert” Picazo III, 28. Orlowski told investigators Picazo gets fentanyl powder online from China and gets packages delivered to a friend’s house.
Police executed a search warrant of Picazo’s home in the 1800 block of Blue Crest Drive on May 17. Police found 4.8 grams of a white powder, which tested positive for fentanyl. Police also found a vial of Narcan in the residence.
On Wednesday, May 18, Orlowski and Picazo were charged with unlawful possession with intent to distribute an illegal controlled substance as well as conspiracy to commit drug trafficking.
APD detectives have linked the men to at least two deaths from the overdose of fentanyl.
At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, police warned the drug is deadly. “You need to be very cautious if you come across it. Don’t touch it,” a police spokesperson said, noting if the drug is in its liquid form it can be absorbed through skin.