The incident took place near the census-designated place of Amado along Interstate 19 in Santa Cruz County, about 45 minutes and less than 30 miles north of Arizona's border with Mexico.
The trooper stopped 27-year-old Fernando Alfonso-Fernandez while he was driving his 2015 Honda Accord heading north on Interstate 19 at milepost 34, near Amado. The trooper reported seeing several suspicious things that may indicate criminal activity and proceeded to conduct a search of Alfonso-Fernandez's vehicle.
During the search, the DPS trooper reported finding roughly 1.042 million fentanyl pills weighing 229.8 pounds. In addition, the trooper also found approximately 9.65 pounds worth of cocaine hidden in the car.
According to the department, the drugs found had an estimated street value of $3.1 million if sold in the Phoenix area. (Related: DEAD customers are bad for business: LA County seeks to curb fentanyl deaths by handing out GLASS PIPES for drugs that can be smoked.)
Alfonso-Fernandez was immediately arrested and booked into the Pima County Jail on charges of possession, transportation and sale of narcotic drugs. The department alleged that Alfonso-Fernandez was trying to smuggle the drugs from Sonora, Mexico to Phoenix.
--Arizona State Troopers Seize Over 229 Pounds of Fentanyl Pills on Interstate 19 Near Amado--#AZTroopers discovered approximately 229.8 lb of fentanyl pills and 9.65 lb of cocaine worth an estimated $3.1 million.
— Dept. of Public Safety (@Arizona_DPS) June 2, 2023
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In 2022, fentanyl was a major contributor to the nearly 110,000 recorded drug deaths – slightly higher than the nearly 108,000 people in the U.S. who died from drug overdoses in 2021. Around two-thirds of the drug deaths recorded in both years involved synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl.
"Fentanyl is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered," warned DEA Administrator Anne Milgram in a statement. "Fentanyl is everywhere. No community is safe from this poison, from large metropolitan areas to rural America."
"We must take every opportunity to spread the word to prevent fentanyl-related overdose death and poisonings from claiming scores of American lives every day," Milgram concluded.
Most of the illegal fentanyl found in the U.S. is made in Mexico and smuggled across the border to willing buyers all over the country. The fentanyl manufactured in Mexico also uses substances and precursors that come primarily from China.
Despite these clear origin points, the administration of President Joe Biden has been slow to react to the fentanyl crisis. He has yet to order his Democrats in the Senate to react to the Halt All Lethal Trafficking (HALT) Fentanyl Act, introduced by Republican Rep. Morgan Griffith of Florida to the House of Representatives and passed with limited bipartisan support with 289 votes in favor and 133 against.
The act would increase penalties for those involved in fentanyl trafficking and provide additional resources for law enforcement agencies to tackle its illicit trade.
The Biden administration has also been slow to impose sanctions on the main criminals and organizations responsible for the trade. Most recently, Biden approved sanctions on 17 people and groups allegedly involved in distributing equipment used in the production of pills that frequently include fentanyl. Many of the targets were people and organizations in China and Mexico.
Learn more about the proliferation of dangerous drugs in the United States at Trafficking.news.
Watch this clip from "The Sharp Response" on Red Voice Media as host Tim Sharp talks to anti-fentanyl political activist Anne Elizabeth about how it may be time to wage war on drug cartels to stop the flow of fentanyl into the United States.