By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) For the second time in a week, authorities have managed to interdict a huge shipment of fentanyl that originated in China in a multi-state bust that involved more than 120 officers from 30 law enforcement agencies.
Over a three-day period, authorities seized 24 firearms, 30 kilograms of fentanyl, 30 kilograms of heroin, 5 kilograms of cocaine, and over $700,000 in cash in Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas. In all, 39 people were arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute the illicit drugs, according to a release by the United States Department of Justice on Aug. 29.
“This massive interdiction of narcotics, which included enough fentanyl to kill over 14 million people, is proof positive of the power and strength of federal, state, and local law enforcement collaboration,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in the release.
— US Attorney Terwilliger (@USATerwilliger) August 30, 2019
“This operation, through its seizure of scores of kilograms of illicit narcotics, saved lives in the Eastern District and elsewhere,” said Terwilliger.
He noted further that the drug-trafficking ring is emblematic of deadly dangerous fentanyl being smuggled into the U.S. via China.
“The illicit fentanyl that’s coming in, the vast majority is from China and a lot of it is coming in through the mails,” Terwilliger said at a press conference.
According to the indictment, one suspect in Virginia ordered fentanyl from a vendor in Shanghai and received it at his residence through the mail via the United States Postal Service.
“The last thing we want is for the US Postal Service to become the nation’s largest drug dealer and there are people way above my pay grade working on that, but absolutely it’s about putting pressure on the Chinese,” Terwilliger said.
The indictment says “defendants and unindicted co-conspirators” would buy and receive narcotics from suppliers in Mexico, California, and New York, then arranged hidden compartments in privately owned vehicles, couriers, and semi-trailers, trucks, and recreational vehicles to transport them.
The Justice Department noted that the suspects used various encrypted social media apps like Facebook and WhatsApp to run their operation.
The DEA will continue to prioritize operations like this one, which target the criminal organizations that bring dangerous drugs and violence into our communities here in Virginia,” said Jesse R. Fong, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division.
This bust comes days after Mexican navy personnel intercepted about 52,000 pounds of fentanyl that also originated in China.
According to reports, the cargo manifest for the 40-foot ocean container claimed that powder content within was 23,368 kilograms of inorganic calcium chloride, which is used most often as an electrolyte in sports drinks, bottled water, beverages, and as a non-sodium pickle flavoring.
The Mexican navy managed to intercept the unloaded cargo container August 24 as it was enroute to the Sinaloa Cartel base of Culiacan, about 300 miles from the port.
According to local media, the Navy alerted customs authorities from nearby City of Lazaro Cardenas. Authorities collected samples from plain bulk-bags were taken to a laboratory that confirmed the powder was fentanyl. In all, 52,000 pounds were seized.
While officials are still testing the purity of the fentanyl, if it turns out to be of pharmacy-grade quality, as suspected, it could be pressed into tens of millions of tablets.
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