California Cracks Down on Fentanyl Investigations with Huge $20 Million Bust
Authorities Seize 1 Million Pills Containing Fentanyl in Huge California Bust
Recently, California law enforcement has been cracking down on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is cheaper than other narcotics but highly addictive and dangerous. This week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized about 1 million counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, a record-breaking bust in Inglewood. The pills are estimated to have a street value of $15 to $20 million and may be linked to a drug trafficking ring associated with the Sinaloa Cartel.
This seizure is the biggest bust ever made by the DEA in California. The administration has identified the greater Los Angeles area as a major hub where illegal drugs coming from across the border are being stored and then transported across state lines and distributed to dealers. Although no arrests were made, these investigations will continue as part of a larger effort by law enforcement to stop the flow of fentanyl in Southern California and beyond.
Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?
Fentanyl is believed to be behind the nationwide spike in drug overdose deaths. According to officials, fentanyl poisoning accounted for over 80,000 of the 108,000 fatal drug overdoses in 2021. In fact, a dose of just two milligrams can be deadly. This is because the drug is up to 100 times more potent than other narcotics and can be mixed into any number of pills. Victims, especially teens and young adults, often believe that they are purchasing illegal Oxycodone or Percocet, but the pills contain fentanyl instead.
Penalties for Fentanyl Crimes
The consequences for possessing or selling fentanyl are severe due to the drug’s dangerous effects. Under the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act, which divides controlled substances into 5 categories, the most stringent regulations are imposed on drugs that have been designated as Schedule I. Fentanyl, a Schedule II substance, is illegal to possess or purchase for sale under current law.
A number of substances, including fentanyl, are prohibited in the state of California under Health and Safety Code Section 11350. The majority of fentanyl possession cases result in misdemeanor charges, which carry sentences of up to a year in jail. A drug diversion program may be an alternative to imprisonment if the court sees fit. However, the prosecution may also decide to charge you with a felony depending on your criminal history, which carries a sentence of up to four years in prison.
The penalties for fentanyl possession increase further if you are discovered to be in possession of significant quantities of the substance. A large amount of the drug indicates to law enforcement that you intended to sell the fentanyl in your possession. Possession with the intent to sell is a breach of Health and Safety Code Section 11351 and is punishable by a two, three, or four year prison sentence. In these situations, drug diversion programs are not an option since possession with the intent to sell does not imply personal drug use.
Recently, California lawmakers have been looking towards increased penalties for fentanyl-related crimes. Assembly Bill 2246, for example, which was introduced in February of this year, would allow prosecutors to pursue a sentence of 20 years to life for distributors of fentanyl that resulted in a fatal overdose. The bill would also make it a felony to possess more than 2 grams of the drug and classify fentanyl as a Schedule I drug rather than its current Schedule II status. If these bills pass, we could be looking at even harsher consequences for fentanyl-related crimes.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
California has strict laws regarding controlled substances, especially fentanyl. If you are arrested for possessing or selling a controlled substance, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients defend against drug-related charges, and we have the skills and resources to help you avoid hefty fines and jail sentences.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.