A joint federal and local law enforcement operation in Portland, Oregon, recently led to the largest single seizure of fentanyl in the state’s history, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The March 1 seizure included around 150,000 counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl and 20 pounds of suspected bulk fentanyl, the DOJ said in a press release. The contraband reportedly had an estimated street value of around $4 million.
The drugs were confiscated as a result of the arrest of four drug traffickers, the DOJ said. The ringleader of the group, Ufrano Orozco Munoz, 27, was allegedly involved in a conspiracy to traffic fentanyl from Mexico and other areas for distribution and sale in Oregon.
Homeland Security Investigations started their investigation into Orozco Munoz in February for his alleged role in bringing fentanyl from Mexico into the U.S. for sale in western states.
Three of Orozco Munoz’s alleged associates, Abraham Vera Enriquez, 29, Jesus Miguel Zamora Cruz, 36, and Jose Javier Valdez Paramo, 32, were also arrested during the raid, the DOJ release said. The four are charged by a criminal complaint with conspiring “to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl,” according to the DOJ.
The three associates appeared in court on March 3, and they were detained pending court proceedings, the DOJ said.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warns that four out of every 10 pills containing fentanyl likely have a deadly dose. Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and it is largely responsible for the nearly 100,000 overdose deaths in during a 12-month period ending in April 2021.
The DEA issued a dire alert in September 2021 that criminal drug networks, both foreign and domestic, “are flooding the United States with lethal counterfeit pills.” The large majority of those pills, according to the DEA, are produced in Mexico with the help of China, which provides the precursor chemicals for their manufacture.
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