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Fentanyl: Deputies seize $3.7M worth that could kill estimated 26.8M people

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(The Center Square) – Ongoing battles against lethal fentanyl and how it is coming into the United States grabbed a spotlight in North Carolina, where the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office seized $3.7 million worth of the drug with ability to kill 26.8 million people.

The stop Sunday on Interstate 77 prevented two men from Mexico and New Mexico from reaching their Pennsylvania destination.

“The supply of illegal drugs is at an all-time high across our nation, which drives violence, addictions, and other crimes,” said Sheriff Darren Campbell in a release from this office. “Law Enforcement is frustrated with the overdose deaths, crime, and violence that follows the drug trade. We need our lawmakers to secure our borders and provide the resources to stop the flow of these deadly narcotics across the southern border.”

Lawmen found in a 2014 Freightliner tractor-trailer 118 pounds “of suspected fentanyl possibly mixed with cocaine,” along with cash in excess of $100,000. The math, the sheriff says, is a wholesale cost of $30,000 per kilogram of fentanyl, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says 1 kilogram “has the potential to kill 500,000 people.”

The two men arrested were Lucio Eduardo Chavira Avila, 33, from Parral Chihuahua, Mexico, and Lorenzo Juan Arreola, 44, from Sunland Park, New Mexico. Bail was set at $3.5 million for each.

“Fentanyl is killing North Carolinians and other Americans at an alarming rate,” Campbell said.

He cited information from the state’s chief medical examiner – a 658% increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the state between 2016 and 2022.

Campbell urges Congress to support the FEND Off Fentanyl Act.

“This bill,” he said, “will provide needed tools to deter international fentanyl trafficking and prosecute fentanyl-related money laundering and continuation of asset forfeiture programs for law enforcement to seize drug profits that are used to protect communities.”

State lawmakers did pass a law this fall increasing monetary fines, helping lawmen to arrest and prosecutors to gain justice against fentanyl traffickers. The “death by distribution” statute was also modified within the legislation, increasing punishments for those responsible.

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