Federal authorities in Phoenix, Arizona, have seized almost 100,000 fentanyl pills in just two law enforcement busts.
The quantity of the seized drug could potentially cause more than 5 million people.
The Arizona Sun-Times reported:
On August 10, agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), working with local Arizona police, reportedly apprehended three men attempting to sell 50,000 fentanyl pills in the Phoenix area, according to Border Report.
Only days later, on August 17, Gila County law enforcement reported seizing 49,500 fentanyl pills and 22.88 pounds of fentanyl powder during a traffic stop in Payson on the previous day. Payson is about 90 minutes away from Phoenix.
Gila County Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd reported that two women were arrested after law enforcement discovered and seized the fentanyl concealed in a backpack. According to law enforcement, the illicit drugs “had a street value of approximately” $1.5 million.
In a press release posted to social media, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office reported that both suspects are from California. The vehicle was stopped due to a civil traffic violation.
The August 10 bust reportedly involved a source who has a history of providing accurate information about the drug transactions of Mexican nationals.
As part of a drug deal, one of the suspects reportedly took photos of the drugs using a cell phone before the 50,000 fentanyl pills were left in the trunk of a vehicle.
Two milligrams of fentanyl is enough to cause a fatal overdose in an adult, according to the DEA, and research indicates 60 percent of fentanyl pills sold in the United States contain this fatal dose – meaning as many as 60,000 people could have died from seized fentanyl pills. At the same time, the 22.88 ponds of fentanyl powder alone contain as many as 5.19 million lethal doses.
Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continues to seize fentanyl as it is trafficked through the southern border.
On Tuesday, CBP reported seizing more than 747,600 fentanyl pills and 24.2 pounds of fentanyl powder in the Nogales sector last weekend. In a worst-case scenario, this quantity of fentanyl could have killed another 5.9 million people – more than the entire population of the top 30 cities in Arizona.
The DEA reported seizing more than 58.3 million fentanyl pills and 13,000 pounds of fentanyl powder in 2022. The agency notes that fentanyl is approximately 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine.
Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are now responsible for 70 percent of all drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency warns that most fentanyl overdoses come from illegally-made fentanyl, which is sold due to its similarity to heroin but is also added to other drugs due to its low cost.
A 24-year-old man from Phoenix was sentenced to nearly six years in prison for intending to distribute illegal fentanyl in June.
Steve Lugo Leon pleaded guilty after he attempted to sell fentanyl pills and methamphetamine at Tempe’s Arizona Mills Mall in 2021, wrecking and flipping his vehicle in the ensuing police chase.