New York City police confiscated almost 200 pounds of the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl last month ― the largest seizure in city history. The cache was enough to kill more than 30 million people from overdoses, police said.
On Aug. 1, more than 140 pounds of pure fentanyl and almost 50 pounds of fentanyl-laced heroin, as well as other drugs, were seized from an apartment in the Kew Gardens neighborhood in Queens, police said Monday. Rogelio Alvarado-Robles and Blanca Flores-Solis were charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance.
A total of 213 pounds of narcotics were confiscated from the Kew Gardens apartment, which police said was “associated” with the two men.
“Given that a dose of fentanyl weighing two to three milligrams can be deadly, the [140 pounds] of pure fentanyl alone seized in this case could have yielded approximately 32 million lethal doses,” the NYPD said.
A month after the Kew Gardens bust, a second narcotics raid in New York ― this time in the Bronx ― resulted in the seizure of 55 pounds of fentanyl and heroin, the NYPD said.
That bust, on Sept. 5, led to 53 pounds of a fentanyl and heroin mixture, as well as about two pounds of pure fentanyl. The drugs were seized from a vehicle near Yankee Stadium. Two men were arrested at the scene.
Officials said the drugs recovered in the two busts had a total street value of over $30 million. The seizures, they noted, illustrated the enormity of the fentanyl crisis in not just New York City, where drug overdose deaths reached an all-time high in 2016, but in the entire region.
“The sheer volume of fentanyl pouring into the city is shocking,” Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor, said in a statement. “It’s not only killing a record number of people in New York City, but the city is used as a hub of regional distribution for a lethal substance that is taking thousands of lives throughout the Northeast.”
Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids surpassed heroin last year as the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in the United States, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 20,000 people in the U.S. died in 2016 from synthetic opioids, the CDC said ― more than double the number from the year before.