CHANDLER, Ariz. — A man was arrested after about 150,000 fentanyl pills were found in his vehicle during a drug trafficking investigation near State Route 101 and Chandler Boulevard, according to the Department of Public Safety.
DPS said the suspect, 30-year-old Braulio de Diego of Mesa, was arrested and booked into jail on charges including possession of a narcotic drug and possession of a narcotic drug for sale.
Detectives located 35.7 pounds of fentanyl – approximately 150,000 pills – in his vehicle. DPS said the street value of the pills is estimated at over $525,000.
Expert say fentanyl is the deadliest drug in the country, and Arizona is a shipment hub.
"We have seized drugs that were intended to supply every state in the United States," said Cheri Oz, special agent in charge at the Phoenix DEA.
The number of pills, powder, and packs of the synthetic opioid has gone up and over in recent years.
Oz says the culprit is the Sinaloa Cartel, which owns the drug routes in Arizona.
Fentanyl is easy to produce. It’s manufactured from chemical compounds mass produced in countries like India and China.
Before being shipped, the substance is made and pressed typically in Mexico with pill presses.
“They can do 10,000-20,000 pills an hour,” Oz said. "You can create a pill shape to look like anything you want."
In 2021—Arizona DEA seized 12 million pills of fentanyl.
The seizures saved lives, but investigators don’t know how much they missed.
"When we talk about seizing 12 million pills, we know we are impacting the cartels, but because [the amount produced] is unquantifiable, we don't know how great that is," Oz added.
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