An undercover operation in Duluth resulted in the arrest of two men who were in possession of enough fentanyl to kill more than 26,000 people.
Authorities said the Thursday night bust was the largest single seizure of fentanyl in Minnesota this year. Raymond Valentino Bowser, 35 (pictured left), and Denzel Lavon Hale, 29 (pictured right), were found in possession of 80 grams of fentanyl, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) said in a press release.
“Fentanyl is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and only a few milligrams can kill a person,” said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans. “The drugs seized during this operation would have been enough to kill more than 26,000 people.”
According to Duluth News Tribune, the men were arrested after leaving the same house but in separate vehicles. At one point, Bowser attempted to flee from the police and ditched a plastic bag with 8.5 grams of fentanyl in a dumpster while he ran away. Police found a digital scale and a sock filled with 72 grams of fentanyl under the passenger seat in Hale’s vehicle.
Both men have been previously convicted of selling drugs. Bowser was arrested for distributing heroin in 2015, while Hale was convicted of third-degree sale of a controlled substance that same year and is currently on probation for driving drunk.
According to a 2016 statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan, Bowser was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison and 12 years of supervised release for trafficking heroin in Michigan in 2015. During his arrest, he provided police with a false name and a fake Illinois driver’s license. Authorities say he “disappeared” before his 2016 sentencing while he was out on bond.
They later found him in Minnesota and learned that he had a 2008 federal drug conviction in the state. In fact, authorities discovered that Bowser was still on federal supervised release and was never supposed to leave Minnesota in the first place.
He was still serving his 12 years of supervised release under the state of Michigan when he was arrested in Duluth, meaning it’s possible he wasn’t supposed to be in Minnesota.
The Star Tribune reports that BCA agents used an informant to conduct controlled buys of heroin and fentanyl from Hale over the past several months. Both men were charged Friday with first-degree sale of narcotics and are being held in St. Louis County Jail under bails of $100,000.
The BCA was assisted by the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, the Superior Police Department and the FBI.
Minneapolis has already recorded 1,360 drug overdoses so far in 2019, the most in a decade, said a Monday report. Minneapolis saw 954 overdoses in all of 2018. City officials said heroin and prescription opioids are still the number one cause of overdoses in the city.
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