A man and woman were allegedly caught transporting more than four pounds of fentanyl in Murrieta, authorities said Wednesday.

Cristobal Chavez, 45, and Yesica Hernandez, 39, both of Los Angeles, were arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of transportation of narcotics for sale. They were booked into the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, where Hernandez was being held in lieu of $200,000 bail. Custody information on Chavez was not immediately available.

According to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, members of the county’s Gang Impact Team, which includes D.A.’s office investigators, were tipped that Chavez and Hernandez were allegedly bringing a quantity of fentanyl into the county, prompting the team to track the pair down.

The suspects were located on Murrieta Hot Springs Road, near Interstate 215, where they were stopped and searched. Roughly 4 1/2 pounds of powdered fentanyl was seized during the search, according to the D.A.’s office.

“It only takes about two milligrams of fentanyl to potentially be lethal for most people,” according to an agency statement. “For perspective of how small that amount is, it takes 5,000 milligrams to make one teaspoon.”

The county, like other parts of the state and country, has been inundated with the synthetic opioid, which authorities say is manufactured in China and smuggled across the border with Mexico. Between 2018 and 2020, the number of lethal fentanyl overdoses increased 300% countywide, according to Sheriff Chad Bianco.

The D.A.’s office said the shipment seized in Murrieta has a street value of $200,000.

Specifics on how the investigation developed and culminated in the seizure were not disclosed.

In the last two weeks, three county residents have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with deaths from fentanyl toxicity.

Last month, Bianco and D.A. Mike Hestrin announced an aggressive strategy to crack down on dealers, all of whom, they said, would be investigated and potentially prosecuted for murder in cases where individuals overdosed and died from fentanyl that the suspects supplied.

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