Valley police departments cracking down on teen vaping

5 months 3 weeks 6 days ago Wednesday, March 29 2023 Mar 29, 2023 March 29, 2023 8:40 PM March 29, 2023 in News - Local

Local law enforcement agencies are saying they want parents to be more alert about a device they’re seeing more teens using.

The police departments at Harlingen and the McAllen Independent School District say they’re cracking down on teen vaping.

McAllen ISD police said any vape — whether it’s flavor, infused with nicotine, or THC oil — is illegal for Valley students younger than 21.

“Anything that heats up and makes the smoke is illegal,” McAllen ISD police crime prevention specialist Mike Avila said.

Despite the law put in place in 2019, vape pens have made their way into Valley high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools.

“It’s going to be district wide, it's going to be Valley wide, nationwide so it's a pandemic going on with the whole nation of these vape pens because you're not seeing the green leafy substance anymore, so it's all into THC liquid, and it's easier to hide,” Avila said

District police are now cracking down on teen vaping, and educating students and parents of the dangers of it.

Violent crime involving teens and drugs prompted the Harlingen Police Department to create a special task force six weeks ago.

“We still have several targets that we're looking at, every day we are finding out more and more people who are involved in this so our job isn't ending anytime soon,” Harlingen police Sgt. Jaime Palafox said. 

Since the formation of the Guardian Task Force, police have caught 25 students with vape pens and have made a total of 20 arrests — including suppliers and drug dealers, Palafox said.

Police have also confiscated 145 vape pens and $17,000 in cash, Palafox said.

Underage vaping also poses lethal risks. ER physician Dr. Harvey Castro said since vaping became popular, he’s been seeing more patients for lung, oral, and even heart diseases.

Police say the solution lies with parents.

McAllen ISD police regularly hold presentations on teen vaping for students and staff. Harlingen police said parent scan bring their kids to the police station for counseling and guidance.

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