CLOSINGS: View Closings

Law enforcement seize enough fentanyl to kill 14 million people

Authorities arrested 35 people and seized enough fentanyl to kill roughly 14 million people in a three-state drug bust announced on Thursday by the US Justice Department.

Posted: Aug 30, 2019 4:06 PM

(CNN) -- Authorities arrested 35 people and seized enough fentanyl to kill roughly 14 million people in a three-state drug bust announced on Thursday by the US Justice Department.

The alleged drug trafficking ring is an example of fentanyl coming to the US from China, said US Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia.

"The illicit fentanyl that's coming in, the vast majority is from China and a lot of it is coming in through the mails," he said at a press conference announcing the arrests.

At least one suspect ordered fentanyl from a vendor in Shanghai that was successfully mailed through US Postal Service to Newport News, Virginia, according to the indictment.

"The last thing we want is for the US Postal Service to become the nation's largest drug dealer and there are people way above my pay grade working on that, but absolutely it's about putting pressure on the Chinese," Terwilliger said.

A grand jury charged 39 co-conspirators with 106 counts for their involvement in an alleged drug trafficking conspiracy that began in March 2016, according to the indictment. The alleged suspects range in age from 19 to 63 years old. One individual charged had been deported in 2014 and reentered the US illegally.

Officers seized 24 firearms, 30 kilograms of heroin, 5 kilograms of cocaine and more than $700,000 in cash along with 30 kilograms of fentanyl, according to a press release from the US attorney's office.

More than 120 law enforcement officers from 30 law enforcement agencies in Virginia, North Carolina and Texas executed the three-day targeted arrest operation dubbed Operation Cookout.

"We're not talking about $5 and $600 deals, we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, you know, $20,000 in the trunk of somebody's car in a gym bag behind a local restaurant," Terwilliger said.

The alleged co-conspirators purchased and received narcotics from suppliers in Mexico, California, and New York, then smuggled the narcotics to locations in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, according to authorities.

The suspects transported the drugs using hidden traps in privately owned vehicles, semi-trailers, trucks, and recreational vehicles, authorities said.

The suspects attempted to thwart law enforcement surveillance using Facebook, and encrypted communications apps like FaceTime and WhatsApp, according to the indictment. Some suspects switched phones regularly and used prepaid cell phones that did not need a subscriber's name.

Four suspects named in the indictment remain at large: Jennifer Bing, Parris McMillan, Mark David and Travis Walters, Terwilliger said.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Article Comments

Terre Haute
Clear
17° wxIcon
Hi: 24° Lo: 8°
Feels Like: 6°
Robinson
Clear
17° wxIcon
Hi: 24° Lo: 7°
Feels Like: 4°
Indianapolis
Clear
18° wxIcon
Hi: 24° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 4°
Rockville
Clear
17° wxIcon
Hi: 23° Lo: 7°
Feels Like: 6°
Casey
Clear
14° wxIcon
Hi: 23° Lo: 7°
Feels Like: 0°
Brazil
Clear
17° wxIcon
Hi: 24° Lo: 8°
Feels Like: 6°
Marshall
Clear
17° wxIcon
Hi: 23° Lo: 6°
Feels Like: 6°
Windy and Very Cold
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

All You Need to Know for Tuesday

Image

First snow of the season hits the Wabash Valley: How can you stay safe during the cold conditions

Image

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, wind chill: -1. High: 21

Image

Monday Late Forecast

Image

Amber DeCoursey

Image

West Vigo basketball

Image

It doesn't have to be Veterans Day to honor veterans - Veterans Memorial Museum in Vigo County open

Image

THS Basketball

Image

THN Basketball

Image

Country club honors veterans during ceremony

WTHI Events