Officials shared a photo of the seizure on Twitter, explaining: “The threat of fentanyl is increasing exponentially.
“So far in 2019, teams have seized more than 100 pounds of the deadly drug, setting the pace to more than double fentanyl seizures for the third year.”
The image included more than 18 pounds of fentanyl, along with 5 pounds of heroin, half a pound of methamphetamine, and a loaded semi-automatic handgun.
In a statement, Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun said the street value of the synthetic opioid is estimated to be at $1.25 million and warned that the drug is becoming a substantial public threat.
She said: “The Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) has seen a marked increase in seizures of fentanyl thus far in 2019, with one recent seizure equaling almost half of the total amount of fentanyl seized in the entire year of 2018.
“Multiple enforcement, narcotics, gang and interdiction teams covering OCSD contact cities and unincorporated areas work tirelessly to interdict illicit drugs. Pharmaceutical fentanyl, a synthetic opioid pain reliever, is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. Illicit fentanyl, sold on the street, started to emerge locally in 2017.
“In 2016, teams seized less than one pound of fentanyl. In 2018, teams seized 44 pounds of fentanyl. This far in 2019, teams have seized more than 100 pounds of confirmed fentanyl, more than doubling from 2018 totals with two and a half months left in the year.”
According to the California Department of Public Health, deaths attributed to fentanyl have risen in Orange County from 14 five years ago to 93 in 2018. Statewide fentanyl deaths also increased 614 percent from 104 in 2014 to 743 in 2018.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said: “The threat this extremely potent drug poses to our community is increasing exponentially, not subsiding.”
The Orange Country Register reported that deputies had also arrested Rudolph Garcia, 60, during the operation that had a search warrant.
He was arrested on suspicion of possessing fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine for sale and of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was held on a $2 million bail, the publication reports.
Fentanyl is also taking a toll nationwide. A 2018 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that the synthetic opioid is now considered the number one drug leading to opioid overdose deaths in America.
The drug—which can be prescribed legally—is used for pain control during surgery and for chronic or breakthrough cancer pain. However, even a small amount can be fatal. It is also regularly being manufactured illegally and sold for its euphoric effects.
Meanwhile, a November 2018 report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission stated that China is the “largest source” of illicit fentanyl in the United States.
The report noted that there had been no “substantive curtailment of fentanyl flows from China to the United States,” which was largely due to “weak regulations governing pharmaceutical and chemical production in China.”
Jeff Nyquist, an author and researcher of Chinese and Russian strategy, previously told The Epoch Times that China is using the opioid as “a form of chemical warfare.”
Nyquist said: “It opens up a number of opportunities for the penetration of the country, both in terms of laundering money and in terms of blackmail against those who participate in the trade and become corrupt like law enforcement, intelligence, and government officials.”
He claimed that China also uses the money generated by the importing of fentanyl to effectively “influence political parties.”