The nation's most prolific executioner has a new drug dealer that officials in states including Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Missouri would probably like to meet. Texas says it has secured enough of the lethal-injection drug pentobarbital to continue executing people after the end of this month—but the state plans to protect its supplier's safety by keeping its identity secret. Its previous supplier, a compounding pharmacy near Houston, was targeted for protests by death penalty opponents. Before the new shipment arrived, the state only had enough of the drug left for the execution of Ray Jasper, a rap artist executed last night for the 1998 murder of a recording studio owner, and another execution scheduled for next week, the Houston Chronicle reports.
"We are not disclosing the identity of the pharmacy because of previous, specific threats of serious physical harm made against businesses and their employees that have provided drugs used in the lethal injection process," a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman tells the AP, although the state attorney general's office has previously said the state's open-records law requires it to disclose specifics about execution drugs. Texas may end up having to release the identity of its new supplier, but a spokesman for the Death Penalty Information Center doubts that drug shortages will ever cause the state to halt executions. "There are a lot of drugs, and Texas can be creative in finding some," he says.