According to a joint statement released by Ohio’s Regional Agencies Narcotics & Gun Enforcement Task Force, during the week of Oct. 21, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Ohio Attorney General’s office conducted an operation in Montgomery County, which resulted in the seizure of more than 44 pounds of suspected fentanyl, 3 pounds of suspected methamphetamine and 1 pound of suspected heroin.
“The quantity of fentanyl in this case amounts to chemical warfare and a weapon of mass destruction,” Attorney General Dave Yost said in the statement. “I applaud the work of our task force and our law enforcement partners — this is an enormous amount of deadly drugs that will no longer be on our streets.”
Authorities also seized three firearms and more than $30,000 in U.S. currency during the raid.
Vance Callender, Homeland Security investigations special agent for Michigan and Ohio said the seizure was “significant,” and that the amount recovered was “enough to kill the entire population of Ohio, many times over.”
According to the statement, as a result of the operation, 31-year-old Shamar Davis, 30-year-old Anthony Franklin and Grady Jackson, 37, all of Dayton, Ohio were arrested and are facing a charge of possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, and felon in possession of a firearm.
Joseph M. Deters, acting special agent for the FBI’s Cincinnati division said the seizure points to the “enormity of the opioid problem in this area.”
“Law enforcement will continue to work aggressively to address the illegal drug supply, but there is also a continuing need to address the demand as well,” he said.
According the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
It is prescribed in the form of transdermal patches or lozenges.
However, the CDC says most recent cases of fentayl-related harm, overdose and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl.
“It is sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect,” the CDC website reads. “It is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product —with or without the user’s knowledge— to increase its euphoric effects.”
Health Canada says a very small amount of pure fentanyl — about the size of a few grains of salt — is enough to kill the average adult.
According to the Montgomery county coroner, Dr. Kent Harshbarger, fentanyl and methamphetamine are responsible for the “vast majority” of overdose deaths in the area.
What’s more, statistics from the CDC, suggest that from 2016 to 2017, the number of over overdose deaths in the U.S. involving synthetic opioids other than methadone increased almost 47 per cent.
The centre says roughly 28,400 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids other than methadone in 2017.
In a Facebook post on Oct. 28, Dr. Anahi Ortiz, the coroner for Ohio’s Franklin County, said just last week there had been “yet another surge in overdose deaths in Franklin county.”
“For a 24 hour period ending this morning we saw eight people die of overdoses,” she said.
According to the Ohio department of health‘s most recent statistics, in 2017 there were 4,854 fatal, unintentional drug overdoses.
“These illegal drugs ruin lives, destroys families, fuels violence, drives up property crime, and wrecks neighborhoods,” Sheriff Rob Streck said in the statement. “Anyone associated with it —especially those who sell and traffic it— are doing violence to people and causing harm in our communities.”
Streck said he is “proud of the teamwork” in the investigation.
“With the help from our partner agencies, we were all able to take dangerous drug dealers off the streets,” he said.