NEW YORK — A Lakewood man has been indicted in the largest single recovery of fentanyl by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in New York, WPIX reports.
Investigators say they found duffel bag filled with 40 pounds of fentanyl — enough to produce 7 million lethal doses of the drug.
DEA agents initially stopped Carlos Ramirez near the Umbrella Hotel in the Bronx and he told them he was staying in room No. 708.
The DEA had noticed Ramirez open the rear passenger door of a car and put a cylindrical package on the floor.
When the agents took a ride to the hotel’s seventh floor, they noticed something strange on top of a vending machine near Ramirez’s room.
It was a black duffel bag filled with 17 packages, each of them wrapped in black tape.
One of the packages was punctured and agents thought the tan powdery substance was heroin.
The discovery was made June 19 and the packages were sent to a lab.
The substance was fentanyl, the man-made opioid that’s being mixed with heroin doses across the country.
It’s driving an alarming spike in fatal overdoses in New York where it reached an all-time high of 1,374 in 2016.
It takes only 2 to 3 milligrams of fentanyl — the size of two to three grains of salt — to kill someone.
A 10-year-old boy in Miami recently died on his way home from a swimming pool and an autopsy showed he’d been exposed to a small amount of fentanyl.
The fentanyl could have been on a beach towel or in a bathroom stall. No one knows how the child was exposed.
Ramirez was indicted Tuesday for criminal possession of a controlled substance in Manhattan Supreme Court. Bail was set at $200,000 bond or $100,000 cash.
“The potential for widespread loss of life was averted only through the investigative skill and fortunate timing of law enforcement officers,” special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan said.
DEA special agent in charge James J. Hunt noted fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin.
“It is a fact, opioid traffickers are mixing heroin with fentanyl because it is more potent and more profitable,” he said. “In turn, heroin users are putting their lives in drug dealers’ hands every time they buy a bag.”
The news about the Ramirez indictment came as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is leading a presidential commission on the nation’s opioid crisis, called on President Donald Trump to declare the epidemic a national, public health emergency.
Christie said the commission discovered they “have a 9/11-scale loss of life every three weeks.”
The Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks killed nearly 3,000 people in a single morning.
Much of the fentanyl that’s arriving in the United States is coming from Mexican drug labs. The deadly product used to be mixed primarily in China.