Florida authorities shut down a fentanyl trafficking operation and confiscated more than eight kilograms (about 17.6 pounds) of the illicit synthetic opioid—enough to kill more than 4 million people—the state attorney general’s office said on Sept. 21.
According to Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office, the alleged traffickers used the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to order the fentanyl from California.
The investigation of the trafficking operation, dubbed Operation Lucky 777s, began in July, after narcotics investigators received a tip about large amounts of narcotics being sold in Clay County. Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution and Clay County’s Sheriff’s Office cooperated in the operation, which culminated in the arrests of Alvin “AJ” Mercado and Jason Setzer on Sept. 10.
The investigation, which also involved the USPS and Florida Highway Patrol, resulted in the confiscation of 8.35 kilograms of fentanyl, 1.36 kilograms (about 3 pounds) of cocaine, and 2.38 kilograms (just over 5 pounds) of methamphetamine. Thirty firearms, among them assault rifles, handguns, and so-called ghost guns, also were seized as well as $183,000 in cash.
“These dangerous, illegal drugs originated in the state of California. They were being shipped and delivered to various Northeast Florida locations,” the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Sheriff’s Office Arrest 2
The two men “sent U.S. currency to a supplier and received shipments of blue and purple fentanyl bricks in return,” Moody’s office said in a statement.
Mercado is alleged to have coordinated drug orders and shipments, and Setzer allegedly divided the orders at his home into smaller quantities for distribution.
“These drug traffickers compiled enough of this deadly synthetic opioid to kill everyone within 28 counties of their criminal operation,” Moody’s office said in its statement.
Just two milligrams of fentanyl is considered to be a lethal dose.
Setzer is charged with trafficking in fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine, as well as possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis, conspiracy to traffic in fentanyl in excess of 2,000 grams, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. If convicted, he faces up to 140 years in prison with a 25-year mandatory minimum.
Mercado is charged with trafficking in fentanyl, and conspiracy to traffic in fentanyl in excess of 2,000 grams. He faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted, with a 25-year mandatory minimum. The men are being held in Clay County Jail on bonds of $17 million and $10 million, respectively.
“Thankfully, working with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, we were able to take these deadly drugs off the streets before they could kill Floridians,” Moody said in the statement.