Since the start of the year, a series of law enforcement raids throughout Riverside County have netted roughly 1,000 pounds of illicit drugs, including large quantities of fentanyl-based narcotics, authorities said Friday.

Operation “Winter Is Coming” has been underway for six weeks, resulting in a flurry of search warrants served mainly by sheriff’s personnel and supported by state, federal and municipal law enforcement agencies, according to sheriff’s Lt. Sam Morovich.

Narcotics units were able to seize 355 pounds of cocaine, 29 pounds of heroin, 589 pounds of methamphetamine and more than $1 million in cash, Morovich said.

He said special emphasis has been placed on finding fentanyl suppliers, culminating in just more than 121,000 fentanyl derivatives, mostly so-called “M30” pills, being taken off of the streets, according to the lieutenant.

“Riverside County has been experiencing overdoses related to fentanyl distribution within M30 pills,” Morovich said, adding that the synthetic drug is notorious for its deadly potency, rated “80-100 times stronger than morphine.”

“These substances alone or mixed together can kill in very small doses,” he said.

Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, recently introduced legislation specifically targeting fentanyl dealers, who under her bill could be charged with murder in certain circumstances, based on the doctrine of “implied malice.”

A countywide jump in suicides among teens and young adults last year was partly attributed to fentanyl use.

Morovich said the crackdown will continue, aimed at disrupting supply lines.

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