(Bethany Blankley, The Center Square) The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, partnering with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and Tempe Police Department, announced the results of a three-year long investigation targeting the Mexican Sinaloa and CJNG cartels’ operations in Arizona.
Agents seized enough drugs to kill over 40 million people, more than five times Arizona’s population. They also charged more than 150 people, seized 49 weapons and $2 million in cash.
“DEA Arizona is laser focused on the Sinaloa Drug Cartel. We will not stop,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Cheri Oz said. “This investigation is a testament to our strong partnerships, which enable us to gain the necessary advantage over these evil criminal networks.”
The cartels “continue to drive addiction and drug poisonings in communities nationwide, threatening the safety and health of Americans,” the DEA said. “The Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for nearly all deadly narcotics flooding into Arizona.”
Investigators seized over 4.5 million fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills and 66 kilograms of fentanyl powder.
“The fentanyl seized represents more than 30 million potentially lethal doses,” the DEA said. Two milligrams is considered a lethal dose.
“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,” the DEA said. “The criminal cartels are mass producing fake pills to look like prescription drugs such as Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Percocet, Xanax, and Adderall. They are also hiding fentanyl in other drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. Any illicit fentanyl, regardless of color, shape, or size, is dangerous and can be deadly.”
The operation also led to the seizure of 138 kilograms of cocaine, 3,100 pounds of methamphetamine and 35 kilograms of heroin, the DEA said.
According to AddictionResources.net, a lethal dose of cocaine is over 30 mg; a lethal dose of methamphetamine is an estimated 200 milligrams; a lethal dose of heroin is an estimated range of 30 mg to 500 mg, or 0.03 to 0.5 g. Based on these estimates and the seizure amounts, law enforcement officers seized enough lethal doses of cocaine to kill 4.6 million people, enough heroin to kill between 70,000 and 1.1 million people, and enough methamphetamine to kill 7 million people.
Last year, DEA-Arizona agents seized more than $22 million worth of fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills and 500 kilograms of fentanyl powder, over 10,000 pounds of methamphetamine, over 1,400 kilograms of cocaine and over 400 pounds of heroin, enough to kill at least 50 million people.
“There are few families in our state and across our country that haven’t been touched in some way by the scourge of the opioid epidemic and fentanyl crisis,” Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes said. “Getting these drugs off the street will undoubtedly save lives.”
Earlier this month, 21 attorneys general called on President Joe Biden to designate the cartels as foreign terrorist organizations. Mayes didn’t join them. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who did, also led a coalition of 18 AGs last year calling on Biden to classify fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction.
Moody argues, “the Biden administration has only emboldened the cartels to commit even more crimes on both sides of the border,” citing a story published by The Center Square, about a recent “cartel-style execution [that] occurred in California that reportedly involved a Mexican drug cartel.”
The DEA and Moody were among the first to launch a “One Pill Can Kill” campaign, including a DEA emoji code that explains how digital drug dealers are using social media to target and sell illicit drugs to minors.