Execution Drugs Texas Purchased From Questionable Supplier Have Expired

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJuly 4, 2017 5:12 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Doses of a banned execution drug that the State of Texas has been fighting to acquire are now expired.

Texas bought sodium thiopental from a drug supplier in India, Chris Harris, in 2015.

Harris has billed himself as a manufacturer of the drug, but Chris McDaniel, an investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News, says that’s misleading.

“He has registered two facilities with the federal government – like ‘this is where I do my drug manufacturing operation,’” McDaniel says. “We went to those facilities and it turns out one is an office space, but no drugs are being made there. And then there’s this other building that he registered which is just an old apartment that he used to live in that he left owing a lot of rent on.”

McDaniel found that instead of producing sodium thiopental himself, Harris purchased the drugs from another Indian manufacturer, put his label on the vials, then resold them at a profit.

When the drugs were shipped to the United States, the Food and Drug Administration seized them because sodium thiopental is outlawed in the U.S.

Texas then sued the FDA to get the shipment, arguing that there’s an exception for law enforcement use.

McDaniel says the Texas Department of Criminal Justice may try to get more drugs from this same supplier depending on the outcome of the legal battle with the FDA.

“To me that says if we end up winning this lawsuit where we’re able to import sodium thiopental,” McDaniel says “we’re going to buy more drugs from this same highly questionable supplier.”

A local government official in the Houston area is charged with two counts of intoxicated manslaughter. Texas City Commissioner Dee Ann Haney was arrested Monday morning. Her truck fatally struck two men on the side of road, where they were securing cargo. Arrest affidavits says Haney admitted that she had been smoking marijuana.

The victims are identified as 58-year-old Van Le and his son, 32-year-old Phue Le.

AAA Texas is offering an option for people who need a safe ride home from Fourth of July festivities tonight.

Tipsy Tow is a program that uses AAA contracted tow trucks to pick up people and their vehicles and take them home.

AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster says it’s a community service the organization offers on holidays when celebrations tend to include alcohol.

“What we want people to do is remember, one drink is too many to get behind the wheel,” Armbruster. “Never, ever get behind the wheel if you’ve had even one drink of alcohol.”

The phone number for the Tipsy Tow program is 1-800 A-A-A HELP.

From 6 P-M Tuesday until 6 A-M Wednesday, tows home are offered free of charge for up to 10 miles.