A well-organized drug bust in New York City ended with four people behind bars and as many as 32 million lives potentially spared from fatal overdoses. Over the course of two months, New York narcotics teams confiscated 195 pounds of Fentanyl in two separate sting operations, along with 75 pounds of heroin and cocaine. The Fentanyl alone, which is over 50 times more powerful than heroin, is estimated to be worth around $30 million.
This life-saving operation began in August when a single sting netted 140 pounds of Fentanyl which they initially assumed to be cocaine. Rogelio Alvardo-Robles and Blanca Flores-Solis were arrested after they were observed receiving a suspicious looking package in the parking lot of a Warhawkin, New Jersey Walmart. Following their arrest, authorities acquired a search warrant and found 97 drug-filled packages hidden in suitcases. 84 of the packages were filled with either pure Fentanyl or Fentanyl-laced heroin.
Just over a month later in September, a secondary drug bust successfully retrieved 53 pounds of Fentanyl-laced heroin and 2 pounds of pure Fentanyl in the Bronx. DEA agents and NYPD detectives observed Edwin Guzman and Manuel Rivera-Santana retrieving an unmarked duffel back from a tractor trailer and transporting it back to into New York City. Further investigation uncovered 25 1-kilo bricks of drugs within the duffel bag.
All four arrested parties face felony drug possession charges. Guzman and Rivera-Santana also face conspiracy charges.
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Street abuse of the ultra powerful opioid pain killer Fentanyl has played a major part in the ongoing substance abuse epidemic plaguing the United States. Of the 64,000 fatal drug overdoses in 2016, over 20,000 involved the use of Fentanyl. Though 195 pounds of Fentanyl may seem like a relatively small amount, this operation removed 32 million potentially fatal doses from the streets of New York. The confiscated substances could have easily been transported throughout the country, causing destruction along the way.