Burnet County sees uptick in drug and violent crimes

BURNET, Texas (KXAN) — Authorities in Burnet County continue to investigate the murder of two young men, allegedly killed by their friend on Tuesday.

Garrett James Ballard, 21, is charged with shooting and killing 17-year-old Elijah Adam Benson and 26-year-old Travis Leslie Fox. Investigators say the three were under the influence of the drug LSD.

Officials in Burnet County say they are seeing an increase in drug crimes and violent crimes related to drug use. District Attorney Sonny McAfee his office has a heavy case load right now.

“Here in the last 18 months, we’ve seen increased cases of violence that involve drugs,” McAfee said.

He says LSD isn’t common in the area, but methamphetamine is. He says possession and use among young people is increasing, and it is becoming easier to get.

“Now, you’re getting a higher quality, imported at a much cheaper price,” McAfee said. “It’s much more available, and that, I think is a huge problem.”

McAfee added that his office is seeing an increase in everything from dealing, to overdoses, to murders involving illegal drugs. And, according to a Burnet County Commissioner Report, from 2009 to 2010, meth lab seizures increased three and a half times.

The district attorney also says they are trying to send the message that you don’t want to get caught in their county by handing down stiff punishments for drug crimes.

“If someone is distributing drugs or dealing drugs, we’re not being light on them. This is not a slap-on-the-wrist kind of jurisdiction,” said McAfee. “You’re never going to cure drug problems, but, part of my philosophy is, if we can’t stop it, we can convince them there are other places to go to apply their trade if they’re dealing. They don’t need to be in this jurisdiction.”

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