Roughly 1 million counterfeit pills containing fentanyl were seized earlier this month in Inglewood, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced Thursday.
“This record-breaking bust is the largest seizure of fentanyl pills (the) DEA has made in California,” the DEA said in a statement.
The investigation, which began in May, involved the DEA Los Angeles Field Division Group 48, the DEA New York Division Tactical Diversion Squad and the Hawthorne Police Department.
According to the DEA, the probe targeted a Los Angeles-area drug trafficking organization believed to be linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.
“During the investigation, DEA agents identified Southern California narcotic couriers and stash house managers who were responsible for distributing narcotics to other drug distributors in the area,” the DEA reported.
A federal search warrant was executed on July 5 at an Inglewood residence, and resulted in the seizure of about 1 million counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, the DEA reported.
The fake pills were intended for retail distribution, and have an estimated street sale value of $15 million to $20 million, the DEA reported.
“This massive seizure disrupted the flow of dangerous amounts of fentanyl into our streets and probably saved many lives,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Bill Bodner.
“The deceptive marketing coupled with the ease of accessibility makes these small and seemingly innocuous pills a significant threat to the health and safety of all our communities,” Bodner said. “A staggering number of teens and young adults are unaware that they are ingesting fentanyl in these fake pills and are being poisoned.”
The greater Los Angeles area is a major trans-shipment hub where illegal drugs coming from the southwest border are stored in local warehouses, storage units and residential properties, the DEA reported.
The bulk shipments of drugs are usually broken down into smaller quantities and transported to other states or distributed to local dealers. The greater Los Angeles area has many international airports, freeways and bus and train lines that make it easy for shipments to be smuggled to other destinations.
The investigation into the drug trafficking organization is ongoing.