The feds seized 220 pounds of illegal drugs, including heart-shaped pills
Law enforcement has seized 220 pounds of illicit substances with an estimated street value of $8 million in Massachusetts, the Department of Justice announced Monday.
According to court documents, the drugs seized included approximately 900,000 individual doses of powdered fentanyl and 20 pounds of pink, heart-shaped pills resembling popular Valentine’s Day candy that allegedly contained fentanyl and methamphetamine.
On July 5, officials began investigating an overdose death in Salem, Massachusetts. They used the victim’s Snapchat account to contact an individual about purchasing more pills, leading to an additional three months of surveillance investigations. Law enforcement earlier this month arrested three men — Emilio Garcia, 25, Emilio Garcia, 33, and Debbie Felix, 40 — allegedly linked to a large-scale drug trafficking organization in the area.
The men were charged with various charges related to their alleged possession and distribution of illegal drugs. According to court papers, “several children” lived in the apartments on the first and second floors of the house where the lethal materials were allegedly stored.
According to charging documents, law enforcement found a drug mix, distribution paraphernalia and three loaded firearms inside the home’s basement during a court-authorized search on Nov. 1.
“This is believed to be one of the largest seizures of fentanyl and methamphetamine in one location in New England history,” investigators said in court papers.
In written statements, Attorney General Merrick Garland called the use of heart-shaped drugs “deviant,” while FBI Director Christopher Wray said they pose a “tremendous danger to children.”
In addition to potentially fatal doses of fentanyl powder, investigators said they found nearly 60 pounds of counterfeit Adderall pills believed to contain methamphetamine and 280,000 counterfeit Percocet pills believed to contain fentanyl and worth up to $7 million.
“We believe this crew’s continued circulation of drug deals has kept the Bay State awash in dangerous and deadly drugs, and is linked to at least one overdose death from Salem, Massachusetts,” said Judy Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Boston. The department said.
More than 82,000 Americans died in 2022 from fentanyl, AEvery year for the past five years, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Law enforcement agencies have so far seized more than 55 million fentanyl pills this year and more than 9,000 pounds of powder containing the deadly drug, Garland said at an event for drug overdose victims last month.
In the face of the growing fentanyl epidemic, law enforcement is moving beyond taking dangerous drugs off the streets, targeting drug cartels in Mexico that bring the substances into the United States and chemical companies in China that produce precursors to the lethal substances.
Last month, federal prosecutors charged 12 individuals and eight companies in China with participating in international schemes to sell and ship chemicals used to produce fentanyl and other deadly drugs around the world and into the United States.
In September, the United States secured the extradition to Mexico of Ovidio Guzmán Lopez, the son of notorious drug lord and former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Lopez — who has pleaded not guilty — and other sons of El Chapo were indicted in April, along with nearly two dozen members and associates of the Sinaloa Cartel on charges of organizing the smuggling of fentanyl across the border into the United States.
The three men charged in Massachusetts are scheduled to make their first appearance in federal court on November 13. Their defense attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.