Two Buena Park men are facing felony charges in what prosecutors are calling Orange County’s largest drug bust in 16 years.
Edgar Alfonso Lamas, 36, and Carlos Raygozaparedes, 53, were arrested March 17 after Buena Park officers recovered 20.5 pounds of fentanyl pills from a van, the prosecutor’s office said Wednesday. of Orange County.
A lethal dose of fentanyl is as low as 2 milligrams, the prosecutor’s office said, and the amount recovered was “enough to kill 4.7 million people.”
Officers also seized 821 pounds of methamphetamine and 189.7 pounds of cocaine after stopping the van leaving a Buena Park home.
Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, is up to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which issued a letter on Wednesday warning state and federal law enforcement agencies that the drug was leading to a national spike in massive overdose. events amid the worsening opioid epidemic.
In the past two months alone, there have been at least seven confirmed massive overdoses linked to fentanyl across the United States, resulting in 58 overdoses and 29 deaths, the agency said. The drug is often mixed with cocaine and methamphetamine, and many victims are unaware they are ingesting fentanyl.
“Millions of unsuspecting people have the grim reaper looking over their shoulder and they have no idea how close they really are to dying from taking a single pill,” Orange County Dist. Atti. Todd Spitzer said in a statement about the bust. “Fentanyl is cheap, it’s easy to get, and it’s killing our kids, our co-workers, and tens of thousands of innocent Americans who don’t have to die.”
In November, Spitzer warned drug dealers and distributors in the county that they could be charged with murder if their drug activities result in someone’s death. Last year, the nation surpassed 100,000 overdoses in a 12-month period for the first time largely due to drugs, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“With fentanyl in about 40% of illicit drugs, it’s not a matter of if but when someone you know and love dies from fentanyl,” Spitzer said Wednesday. “We must continue to do all we can to fight this deadly drug epidemic and save lives.”
Lamas and Raygozaparedes were each charged with multiple counts of possession for the sale of a controlled substance and multiple counts of selling or transporting for the sale of a controlled substance, all felonies, the prosecutor’s office said.
The pair were also charged with two criminal enhancements that the controlled substances exceeded 80 kilograms in weight and two criminal enhancements that the controlled substances exceeded 20 kilograms in weight or 400 liters in liquid volume.
They have pleaded not guilty and remain in custody on $5 million bond, the prosecutor’s office said. A lawyer for the men did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If convicted on all counts, both face a maximum sentence of 37 years and 4 months, according to the prosecutor’s office.
A preliminary hearing is set for June 7.