Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez said he believes the prescription drug takeback program he initiated several months ago is off to a good start.
Martinez on Friday showed off several large bags full of old and unused drugs that have been deposited in two mailbox-like drop locations the sheriff placed outside the main entrance to the sheriff’s office off Hamilton Lane and outside the AliceMae Fitzpatrick Courthouse Annex downtown.
“This is the accumulation of about two months of drug takeback, people utilizing the two boxes we’ve put up, both here at the sheriff’s office and at the county courthouse. Everything we’ve collected here was placed in those two boxes over the past two months,” Martinez said as he surveyed two tables carrying the plastic bags full of prescription bottles and boxes.
“The majority of what we’ve collected is prescription medications. There are some over-the-counter medications, as well as some vitamins, stuff like that, but for the most part these are prescription medications,” the sheriff said.
Martinez said he wanted residents of Del Rio and Val Verde County to have a place to safely dispose of unused prescription medications, which could fall into the wrong hands if they are left unsecured in a home.
The sheriff said he also did not want the medications disposed of improperly, such as being flushed down the toilet or poured into a sink.
“Our idea was just to make the community a little safer, get all the narcotics and other prescription medications that people are not using off the street, get them off of people’s shelves, and we will get those destroyed,” he said.
Del Rioans and Val Verde County residents can bring unused prescriptions to the courthouse annex or to the sheriff’s office and place them in the metal, mailbox-like containers.
“Just drop them off, that’s all people have to do,” the sheriff said.
Martinez said his office will also be working with an organization in Mexico to recycle the plastic bottles containing the prescription medications.
“There’s an organization in Mexico that will take all the plastic, and they recycle it. This was all started, if I’m not mistaken, by a cancer patient, a nine-year-old girl, who’s ‘paying it forward’ and started a little foundation, and people in Mexico get credit for what they turn in,” Martinez said.
He said the sheriff’s office evidence custodian, Crystal Denney, will empty the bottles so they can be taken to Mexico.
The leftover drugs and other medications will be destroyed at the sheriff’s office.
“We have an incinerator here, and the drugs and other items will be destroyed here,” Martinez said.