The bust, which had a reported street value of $1.25 million, was reported by media sources to be enough fentanyl to create “four million lethal doses.”
Fentanyl-Related Deaths In Orange County Surge
Though a win for law enforcement, the seizure also underscored the threat posed by fentanyl to Orange County, which has seen a substantial increase in the number of overdose deaths related to the potent synthetic opioid over the last five years.
According to the Orange County Register, investigators confiscated the fentanyl on October 16, as well as a loaded semi-automatic handgun, five pounds of heroin, a half-pound of methamphetamine, and $71,000 in cash.
Sheriffs’ deputies also arrested Rudolph Garcia, 60, who was booked on suspicion of possessing fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine, as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was held on $2 million bail.
OC Sheriffs Have Seized More Than 100 Pounds Of Fentanyl In 2019
Los Angeles CBS affiliate KCBS quoted the Orange Country sheriff’s department’s figures regarding fentanyl seizures over the last four years, which have risen from less than a pound in 2016 to 44 pounds in 2018. The October 16 bust raised the total amount seized in 2019 to more than 100 pounds.
“[The October 16 seizure] was enough fentanyl in one seizure to kill the entire county’s 3.2 million residents three times over,” said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. “It’s very dangerous [and] it’s not getting better. It’s getting worse. And I think as a county, as a state and as a country, we have to get out ahead of this.”
Fentanyl-related overdose deaths have risen sharply in the state of California over the last half-decade, and Orange County is no exception. In March 2019, the Orange County Registerquoted the county coroner’s report from 2018, which found that the number of fentanyl-related deaths increased 164% between 2014 and 2016 before jumping another 54% between 2016 and 2017 alone.
And according to a Facebook post from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, those numbers skyrocketed between 2017 and 2018, which saw a 149% increase in fentanyl overdose deaths.
The social media post also noted that the Orange County Crime Lab reported a 101% increase in the presence of fentanyl in various drugs confiscated throughout the county, with 225 drugs found to contain fentanyl in June 2019—again, a staggering increase of 91% from statistics reported in June 2018.
“The threat this extremely potent drug poses to our community is increasing exponentially, not subsiding,” said Barnes in a statement.