A federal investigation has led to a massive drug bust in San Diego, Calif., with three people charged and nearly 100 pounds of fentanyl seized by Drug Enforcement Administration agents.
Most of the drugs were at a home in Lemon Grove, Calif., the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. A lethal dose of fentanyl is just three milligrams, and the DEA's seizure represents over 14 million lethal doses, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, according to a fact sheet from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It is sold in several forms, including mixed into or substituted for heroin. Fentanyl's serious potency leads to a high risk of overdose, and it is an increasing public health issue. Fentanyl-related deaths have spiked across the United States in the past year.
"The opioid crisis the country is facing right now makes this indictment all the more important. 44.14 kilograms of fentanyl represents more than 44 million fraudulent pills on the street which could be fatal for users. These dealers are trafficking in death and DEA will continue to hunt them down," said DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman in a press release.
The same release said that the amount of fentanyl seized is the largest amount ever sent to DEA labs nationwide.
In addition to seizing drugs, the DEA arrested and charged three people. Jonathan Ibarra, 45, of Lemon Grove; Hector Fernando Garcia, 46, of San Diego; and Anna Baker, 30, of Lemon Grove, were all indicted on charges of possessing fentanyl with intent to sell.
Court documents allege that the three conspired to have Baker transport the drugs. DEA agents pulled over Baker's car and seized 33 pounds of fentanyl; another 66 pounds were found in her home after they served a search warrant.
If convicted, Ibarra, Garcia, and Baker face a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine.