DEA Los Angeles Field Division Makes Historic Seizure of Approximately 1 Million Fentanyl Pills
LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Los Angeles Field Division High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Group 48, seized approximately 1 million fake pills containing fentanyl in Inglewood, Calif. earlier this month. This record-breaking bust is the largest seizure of fentanyl pills DEA has made in California.
HIDTA 48, along with the DEA New York Division Tactical Diversion Squad and Hawthorne Police Department, in May began investigating a Los Angeles-area drug trafficking organization believed to be linked to the Sinaloa Cartel. During the investigation, DEA agents identified Southern California narcotic couriers and stash house managers who were responsible for distributing narcotics to other drug distributors in the area.
A federal search warrant was executed on July 5, 2022 at an Inglewood residence resulted in the seizure of approximately 1 million fake pills containing fentanyl. The seized fake pills were intended for retail distribution and have an estimated street value of $15 to $20 million dollars.
“This massive seizure disrupted the flow of dangerous amounts of fentanyl into our streets and probably saved many lives,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Bill Bodner. “The deceptive marketing coupled with the ease of accessibility makes these small and seemingly innocuous pills a significant threat to the health and safety of all our communities. A staggering number of teens and young adults are unaware that they are ingesting fentanyl in these fake pills and are being poisoned.”
The greater Los Angeles area is a major transshipment hub where illegal drugs coming from the southwest border are stored in local warehouses, storage units, and residential properties. The bulk shipments of drugs are usually broken down into smaller quantities and transported to other states or distributed to local dealers. The greater Los Angeles area has many international airports, freeways, and bus and train lines that make it easy for shipments to be smuggled to other destinations.
This investigation into the drug trafficking organization is ongoing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 107,000 people have died as a result from a drug overdose or poisoning in the U.S. Criminal drug networks in Mexico are mass-producing illicit fentanyl and fake pills pressed with fentanyl in filthy, clandestine, unregulated labs. These fake pills are designed to look like real prescription pills right down to the size, shape, color and stamping. These fake pills typically replicate real prescription opioid medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®).
In 2021, the DEA offices in the greater Los Angeles area seized over 3 million fentanyl pills, which was nearly a three-fold increase from the previous year. In the first four months of 2022, DEA Los Angeles have seized approximately 1.5 million fentanyl pills, which is a 64% increase over the same period last year.
The only safe medications are ones that come from licensed and accredited medical professionals. DEA warns that pills purchased outside of a licensed pharmacy are illegal, dangerous, and potentially lethal. For more information please visit www.dea.gov/onepill.
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Los Angeles Field Division is the 2nd largest division in DEA and responsible for the seven largest counties in Southern California—Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, as well as the states of Nevada (Las Vegas/Reno), and Hawaii (Oahu/Maui), and the U. S. Territories of Guam and Saipan.