Two men are now facing multiple drug charges after they were found to be in possession of enough fentanyl to kill approximately 4.7 million people, as well as large amounts of several other drugs.
According to authorities, 36-year-old Edgar Alfonso Lamas and 53-year-old Carlos Raygozaparedes were caught with the drugs in Ocean County, California on March 17. Upon entering the house in Buena Park, police made the largest drug bust in the Southern California county in nearly two decades — finding 821 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately 190 pounds of cocaine, and over 20 pounds of fentanyl pills.
“Millions of unsuspecting people have the grim reaper looking over their shoulder and they have no idea how close they actually are to dying from taking a single pill. Fentanyl is cheap, it’s easy to get and it is killing our children, our coworkers, and tens of thousands of innocent Americans who don’t have to die,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement on the massive drug bust.
“With fentanyl in an estimated 40 percent of street drugs, it’s not a matter of if but when someone you know and love dies from fentanyl. We have to continue to do everything we can to combat this deadly drug epidemic and save lives,” Spitzer added.
Lamas and Raygozaparedes have both pleaded not guilty on the drug charges, and are currently being held on $5 million bail until their court date on June 7.
Each of the two men are facing a maximum sentence of 37 years and four months in prison if they are convicted on all counts, which include multiple felony charges of possession for sale of a controlled substance, as well as multiple counts of the sale or transportation for sale of a controlled substance.
Both Lamas and Raygozaparedes were also charged with two felony enhancements because the amount of the controlled substances exceeded 80 kilograms by weight, and two felony enhancements because the controlled substances exceeded 20 kilograms by weight or 400 liters by liquid volume.
On April 6, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a notice to state and federal officials, warning them that fentanyl is the leading cause of a national spike in mass overdose events.
A portion of the notice stated: “The DEA is seeing a nationwide spike in fentanyl-related mass-overdose events involving three or more overdoses occurring close in time at the same location.”
“In just the past two months, there have been at least 7 confirmed mass overdose events across the United States resulting in 58 overdoses and 29 overdose deaths,” the notice continued. “Many of the victims of these mass overdose events thought they were ingesting cocaine and had no idea they were in fact ingesting fentanyl.”
The notice went on to request that all local, state, and federal law enforcement reach out to the DEA for assistance if they experience any mass overdose events, and noted that fentanyl is being mixed into a myriad of street drugs, as well as being sold as fake prescription pills appearing to be OxyContin, Percocet, and more.