The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of Arizona announced Thursday a massive amount of seized narcotics and incarcerations following a three-year-long targeted investigation of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel (SDC).
“DEA Arizona is laser focused on the Sinaloa Drug Cartel. We will not stop,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Cheri Oz. “This investigation is a testament to our strong partnerships which enable us to gain the necessary advantage over these evil criminal networks.”
According to the DEA, the SDC is responsible for nearly all the illicit drugs flooding into Arizona across the southern border, but following the investigation, over 150 individuals connected to the cartel have been arrested. As for the drugs, the DEA seized a massive amount of fentanyl, over 4.5 million pills, and 66 kilograms of fentanyl powder, to be exact.
“Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat facing our country and most of the fentanyl is trafficked by the Sinaloa and CJNG Cartels who mass-produce the drug in secret laboratories in Mexico with chemicals sourced largely by China,” according to the DEA. “Any illicit fentanyl, regardless of color, shape, or size, is dangerous and can be deadly.”
Illicit fentanyl is made to look like prescription drugs like Oxycontin, Xanax, and Adderall, or it could be mixed in with other drugs like heroin to increase potency. Just two milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal, and the DEA estimated that the fentanyl taken during this operation has the potential to cause over 30 million overdoses.
The DEA recommends families have open conversations, especially with younger people, about the dangers of fentanyl. Over 1,700 Arizonans died from a fentanyl overdose in 2022, primarily people between the ages of 25 and 34.
Aside from fentanyl, the administration also seized 138 kilograms of cocaine, 3,100 pounds of methamphetamine, 35 kilograms of heroin, 49 firearms, and over $2 million. The drugs taken are valued at over $13 million. The DEA conducted this operation with the Arizona Attorney’s Office and Tempe Police Department.
“Our mission to reduce the supply and demand of illegal drugs within the City of Tempe would not be successful without the collaboration and, more specifically the hard work and dedication of our detectives, special agents, and professional staff,” said Interim Tempe Police Chief Josie Montenegro.
Moreover, the DEA is not the only one announcing fentanyl busts. On Thursday, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) announced that fentanyl was found on Monday morning when a state trooper initiated a traffic stop on a commercial vehicle in Nogales. Upon searching the vehicle, the officer discovered roughly 1,035 pounds of methamphetamine, 784,000 fentanyl pills, and 21.75 pounds of cocaine. Combined, the drugs are worth approximately $4 million. The suspect was booked into the Santa Cruz County Detention Center.
–Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Task Force Seizes Over 1,000 Pounds of Suspected Methamphetamine, Large Quantities of Fentanyl & Cocaine During Commercial Vehicle Inspection in Nogales–
Read the news release: ➡️https://t.co/eJSwz0tl8A#AZTroopers #CourteousVigilance pic.twitter.com/v3f5EEvIqF
— Dept. of Public Safety (@Arizona_DPS) February 23, 2023
However, this was only one of three fentanyl busts made by the AZDPS in February. On the 16th, state troopers responded to an accident on Interstate 10 where a pickup truck driver lost control and rolled the vehicle. When inspecting the crash, officials discovered packages containing approximately 1,297,000 fentanyl pills, enough to kill half a million people potentially.
Before that, on February 2nd, the AZDPS served a search warrant on a Tucson property that led to confiscating 93 pounds of fentanyl, among other drugs, priced at over $2 million. Two individuals, Daniel Chan and Victor Miranda, were booked into Pima County jail following the search. They were also in custody of stolen firearms.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Narcotics” by Arizona Department of Public Safety.