By Jon Dougherty for The National Sentinel
(NationalSentinel) The Justice Department announced on Friday that a former Mexican police officer has been arrested while attempting to smuggle enough fentanyl into the United States to kill millions.
According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Texas, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Assmir Contreras-Martinez, 30, of Tucson, Arizona, with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin.
Authorities busted him with 33 kilograms (about 73 pounds) of the substance — enough to kill about 10 million people, according to experts from the DEA.
Fentanyl is devastating communities across the country,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “We cannot tolerate the trafficking of this deadly drug through North Texas— especially by those who are charged with protecting our communities, foreign or domestic.”
“Fentanyl is the number one threat causing our opioid epidemic in the United States,” said Clyde E. Shelley, Jr., DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Division. “This seizure alone has potentially save millions of lives.”
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The U.S. Attorney’s office said that a Texas DPS trooper pulled Contreras-Martin over in May. During a subsequent search of his vehicle, the officer found a white powdery substance which he first assumed was cocaine. However, testing of the substance revealed it to be fentanyl.
After his arrest, Contreras-Martin admitted he’d been paid $6,000 to transport illegal substances from California to Florida. He told police he was on his second trip when he was stopped and arrested.
Also during his interview with police, he told officers he had crossed into the U.S. illegally earlier this year and that he worked for eight years as a municipal police officer in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico.
If convicted, Contreras-Martin faces up to 30 years in prison and deportation.
According to the press release:
Overdoses involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl killed almost 32,000 Americans last year, according to provisional data released by the CDC last week. Because of the drug’s deadly potency, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas has a zero-tolerance policy on fentanyl, taking federally any case that involves the substance or its unlawful analogues, no matter the quantity.