The Maricopa County Grand Jury indicted two women Monday for possessing over 850,000 counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl, enough to cause potentially millions of overdoses.
“Two out of five counterfeit pills that come across our border are laced with lethal doses of fentanyl. These drugs are being marketed to our youth in the most proliferous ways and are being produced in candy-like colors. We must hold those who bring these lethal pills into our community accountable,” County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said.
The women, Kimberli Guadalupe Torres-Marin, 26, and Alexa Torres-Marin, 19, were arrested on August 24 after Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies found the pills stashed in duffel bags. The women were en route to Phoenix when they were searched. Both received one count each of sale or transportation of narcotic drugs, a class 2 felony.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s office will hold a community forum on September 27 to discuss the fentanyl crisis in Maricopa County. The public is welcome to attend.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), just two milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal depending on the user’s body size and tolerance. The DEA shared that 42 percent of pills tested for fentanyl contained more than the deadly limit. One kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill roughly 500,000 people.
The average fentanyl pill weighs roughly one-tenth of a gram, meaning the Torres-Marins had 85 kilograms of fentanyl. Using the DEA’s statistics, the two women potentially carried enough fentanyl to cause the deaths of 42,500,000 Arizonans or Americans, depending on the pill’s final destination.
Moreover, Maricopa County deputies are not the only officials catching fentanyl carriers. Nogales Port of Entry Director Michael Humphries shared that multiple fentanyl seizures occurred during the week of September 12-18. On Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers found 20,000 fentanyl pills, plus 6,000 multi-colored “rainbow” fentanyl, in a car’s gas tank. The next day, officers and K9 units made another, much bigger, seizure of 276,000 pills, over half of which were rainbow-patterned. Then, over the weekend, five separate loads of fentanyl pills were taken at the port, totaling 400,000 more pills, 30,000 of which were multi-colored.
This weekend, CBP officers at the Nogales POE stopped 5 loads totaling approx. 400,000 fentanyl pills of which approx. 30,000 were ‘rainbow’ colored, and 152 lbs. of meth. Concealment methods included the back wall of a truck cab, side walls of a vehicle, throughout a pickup. pic.twitter.com/gqEI1NYCVD
— Port Director Michael W. Humphries (@CBPPortDirNOG) September 19, 2022
In these reported incidents, officials confiscated around 702,000 fentanyl pills, equivocating to just over 70 kilograms of the opioid. This means CBP officers seized enough pills to kill another 35,100,000 people. This number accounts for a single week at a single port along the southern border.
Furthermore, the DEA warned that the rainbow variety of fentanyl had been found in 18 states as of August 30. While there is no evidence suggesting one color is more potent than another, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram shared Mitchell’s fears that the candy-like appearance of the pills may be an effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction amongst kids and young adults.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 150 people die daily from overdoses related to synthetic opioids. Signs of an overdose include shrunken pupils, loss of consciousness, slowed breathing, and cold, clammy, or discolored skin.
Moreover, fentanyl is not the only illicit drug in Arizona. Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) recorded two recent incidents resulting in nearly 300 pounds of methamphetamine being seized. Both incidents occurred on I-10 westbound near Tucson. Drivers Carlos Celaya, 23, and Jesus Enriquez, 61, were arrested on felony drug charges.
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