On Wednesday evening, a Mexican mafia hitman was executed in Texas, leaving the state with just one more dose of pentobarbital, a necessary component in lethal injection cocktails.
Manuel Vasquez, 46, was sentenced to death for the 1998 murder of a woman who would not pay a gang tax on drug sales, NBC News reports. He was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m. local time, 17 minutes after the drug was administered. Vasquez was the first of six inmates scheduled to be put to death in Texas over the next few weeks, and state officials said they are working to find more pentobarbital.
There are shortages across the country, as a court decision ruled that the name of suppliers must be made public, and manufacturers do not want to be associated with capital punishment. Some states are coming up with back-up plans, including Utah, which approved a bill on Tuesday to use firing squads when lethal injections can’t be done.