A Texas school district has dealt with four drug overdoses potentially caused by the potent opioid fentanyl since the start of the 2023-2024 school year on August 8.

Cleveland Independent School District Superintendent Stephen McCanless sent an announcement to district residents informing them that the overdoses are believed to be connected to Percocet pills laced with fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a deadly drug that is currently the leading cause of death for people between 18 and 45 years old, according to retired DEA Agent Tyson Hodges. Hodges also noted that adolescent deaths due to fentanyl tripled between 2019 and 2021.

McCanless sent his announcement in both English and Spanish.

Cleveland ISD serves a large Hispanic population due largely to the presence of an illegal alien housing development called Colony Ridge. It is situated just north of Houston in Liberty County.

Todd Bensman, Senior Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, said Cleveland ISD is “overrun” as it serves “perhaps the largest illegal immigrant community in America.”

Colony Ridge is straining local resources as the student population in CISD has nearly doubled in four years. To accommodate these students, the district built six new schools.

Meanwhile, the development has been associated with the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels. In 2013, 300 acres of Liberty County lands hosted the “largest and most sophisticated marijuana-growing operation” in U.S. history. The area broke another record in July 2021 when the Drug Enforcement Administration raided a multimillion-dollar methamphetamine manufacturing lab in Colony Ridge.

The Texas GOP has called for legislative action to ensure another development like Colony Ridge cannot be built in Texas. They also requested the attorney general investigate the company behind the development.


Colony Ridge Land, LLC is the land development company responsible for providing loans for the construction of one of the largest illegal alien settlements in America. Notably, it is funded by one of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s major donors.

Terrenos Houston, the marketing program for Colony Ridge, advertises to illegal aliens by indicating they do not require traditional bank loans, nor do they need Social Security numbers or a proven job history to apply. Instead, the company operates through owner-financed lots for illegal aliens who don’t qualify for certain loans.

The company is particularly active on international media platforms and produces marketing videos in Spanish, promoting incentives like discounts and video tours of the area’s new schools.

Fentanyl Crisis

With the Biden administration failing to address the open southwest border, thousands of Americans and hundreds of Texans are being poisoned by fentanyl yearly. Since March 2021, Texas law enforcement has seized more than 429 million lethal doses of fentanyl.

On June 17, Abbott signed House Bill 3908, also known as Tucker’s Law, requiring schools to provide comprehensive counseling and fentanyl education programs. The law took effect immediately.

Abbott also signed House Bill 6, which took effect on September 1. This law allows a person who provided fentanyl to another to be charged with murder in the case of a fentanyl-caused poisoning or overdose.

Cleveland ISD Response

Matt Bieniek, Director of Communications and Media for CISD, told Texas Scorecard the district is “prioritizing safety and taking measures to educate our students, staff, and community members on the dangers of fentanyl and opioid use.”

According to Bieniek, the district is holding educational town hall meetings and providing informational presentations to all students. Additionally, a drug dog is making random visits each day to district campuses, and CISD police are searching students to confiscate vapes and other drug paraphernalia.

“One thing that we would like to point out is that this is not just a Cleveland issue. This is an issue affecting people nationwide. We strongly encourage everyone to please be mindful about the choices you make,” said Bieniek.

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government and is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.