Fentanyl has become the primary driver of the U.S. opioid crisis in recent years, a problem that shows little sign of slowing as law enforcement agencies across the country have announced record-setting fentanyl busts throughout 2022.
“Fentanyl is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered,” Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Anne Milgram said on the DEA’s Fentanyl Awareness Day earlier this year. “Fentanyl is everywhere. From large metropolitan areas to rural America, no community is safe from this poison. We must take every opportunity to spread the word to prevent fentanyl-related overdose death and poisonings from claiming scores of American lives every day.”
Milgram’s characterization of the problem is shared by experts, who have continued to warn that the drug can be fatal in small doses. The dangers have cut across racial and socioeconomic demographics, while cases of increased overdoses have hit small towns and big cities across the country.
Law enforcement agencies have been on the front lines of the issue, attempting to prevent the dangerous drug from reaching the streets. However, law enforcement agencies from coast-to-coast have also seen signs that the problem is growing, with different agencies making busts that have shattered previous records throughout the year. These are just a few of the record-setting fentanyl busts that have been recorded in 2022:
FLORIDA SHERIFF’S OFFICE MAKES RECORD FENTANYL BUST, ARRESTS 3 PEOPLE TRAFFICKING DRUGS SENT FROM MEXICO
Authorities in South Dakota make ‘historic’ seizure
The Roberts County Sheriff’s Office in South Dakota took to social media last month to announce the seizure of 16 pounds of fentanyl and fentanyl-laced pills during a traffic stop, the largest such seizure ever recorded in the state.
“As historic as this seizure is, it is also a reminder our job as law enforcement is needed now more than ever for the safety of our communities, our citizens, and the incredible state of South Dakota,” Sheriff Tyler Appel wrote on Facebook at the time.
The drugs, which included about three pounds of fentanyl and 53,000 counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl, were valued at over $2 million in street value.
Eugene Police seize guns, cash and fentanyl in the largest bust in department’s history
The Eugene Police Department turned a welfare check into the largest fentanyl bust in the Oregon agency’s history in October, according to a report from The Register Guard.
ARIZONA POLICE SEIZE 395,000 FENTANYL PILLS DURING TRAFFIC STOP, SUSPECT ARRESTED
Officers were responding to calls of a man slumped over in his car at a stop light, finding 42-year-old Andre Lavell Johnson unconscious at the wheel. After using patrol vehicles to box the car in, officers attempted to wake Johnson, but he refused police commands and attempted to start his car.
When officers noticed a gun near his feet, they removed Johnson from the vehicle and a subsequent search turned up suspected fentanyl pills and stolen cash.
Police later executed a search warrant of Johnson’s vehicles and home and turned up around 18 pounds of suspected fentanyl, two guns and over $47,000 in cash.
Johsnson was charged with three felonies, including driving with a revoked license, drug possession and DUII.
SOUTH CAROLINA AUTHORITIES SEIZE ENOUGH FENTANYL TO KILL 15 MILLION
Trafficker with massive amount of fentanyl evades DEA across multiple states
The DEA cut a deal with drug trafficker David Maldonado, 27, earlier this year, after he was busted with 114 pounds of fentanyl.
According to an NBC News report in October, Maldonado offered to lead agents to drug traffickers in South Bend, Indiana, which he said was a destination for the drugs. However, on the way to Indiana, Maldonado was able to lose the agents and remove the tracker they had placed in his car. Maldonado is now considered a fugitive.
“DEA was working with us, and they made a deal with the driver,” a spokesperson for the Colorado State Patrol, who made the initial bust, said of the ordeal. “He ran on them after they worked the case, and that was their debacle.”
However, the drugs never left the possession of law enforcement, leading to a news conference in which Brian Besser, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Denver Field Division, boasted about seizing the 114 pounds of fentanyl. Besser said the drugs were enough to kill more than 25 million people and represented the largest fentanyl bust ever on a U.S. highway.
MINNESOTA POLICE MAKE RECORD SETTING FENTANYL BUST
Minnesota police department makes record bust
The Bloomington Police Department in Minnesota made its largest-ever fentanyl bust in August, arresting 36-year-old Marcus Trice at a local hotel after finding the 24 pounds of fentanyl pills.
“This is the largest seizure of fentanyl ever for Bloomington [police] and one of the largest seizures recorded for the state,” the department said in a statement at the time.
Trice was in possession of pills designed to look like oxycodone, police said, leading to charges of first-degree possession with intent to distribute. Trice was also charged with credit card fraud after police found he was in possession of several fraudulent credit cards.
St. Louis fentanyl seizures surge nearly 800% over five years
The Drug Enforcement Administration St. Louis Division broke its fentanyl seizure record again in fiscal year 2022, seizing 671 pounds of the dangerous drug. The number represents a rapid rise for the area, which saw seizures of 396 pounds in 2021. The number is even more striking compared to 2018, when the agency seized 77 pounds of fentanyl, an increase of nearly 800% during the five-year period.
CALIFORNIA MEN ARRESTED, CHARGED WITH HAVING 32,000 FENTANYL PILLS WORTH $1 MILLION
“Looking at this staggering increase in seizures, there is no question that DEA and its local, state and federal partners have stepped up our efforts to stop fentanyl from reaching our communities,” Special Agent in Charge Michael A. Davis said in a press release last month. “Unfortunately, the drugs pouring into the Midwest in multiple forms is also a sign that drug trafficking organizations will go to any length to profit from the misery of our citizens. We’ll continue to take down these criminal networks and put out the message that what they’re selling kills.”
In addition to the fentanyl, the DEA’s St. Louis Division seized 3,203 pounds of methamphetamine and 57 pounds of heroin in 2022.
New York City’s record fentanyl busts stands for only a few days
Federal officials announced in October that they had made the largest of fentanyl in New York City’s history, arresting a woman who was concealing about 15,000 rainbow-colored fentanyl pills in a Lego box in September, according to a report from ABC 12.
However, the record did not stand long, with authorities announcing the Oct. 7 arrest of two people in possession of 300,000 rainbow-colored fentanyl pills in a Bronx apartment soon after.
The drugs were valued at about $9 million in street value, with the arrests resulting in multiple drug and firearm charges.
“Hundreds of thousands of lethal pills were lying in wait in a Bronx apartment to be unleashed onto our streets. In today’s world, the potential to overdose is dangerously high,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino said in a statement at the time. “There is no quality control in these fake pills and it only takes two milligrams of fentanyl to be lethal.”
Source: Fox News