Originally Published: March 24, 2016 3:01 p.m.
PRESCOTT – An arrest and drug seizure in Oct. 2015 that Yavapai County sheriff’s deputies originally called 30 pounds of cocaine was actually nearly half fentanyl, lab testing determined, according to YCSO spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn.
The two men arrested, Casiano Angulo, Jr., 26 and Ignacio Soto, Jr., 25, both from Los Angeles, were stopped on Oct. 22 heading east on Interstate 40 near Ash Fork for an unsafe lane change, D’Evelyn said.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that acts as a depressant and is intended as a pain reliever.
However, it is “hundreds of times” as potent as heroin, a natural opioid, and is often used to “cut” heroin, D’Evelyn said. “You cannot smell it or taste it. Overdose deaths from Fentanyl-laced heroin are on the rise in the U.S."
When Angulo and Soto were arrested, the YCSO said they were transporting 30 pounds of cocaine and 4.5 pounds of herion, based on the drugs’ appearance, but analysis of the materials by the Department of Public Safety lab confirmed that 14 pounds of what appeared to be cocaine was, in fact, fentanyl.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration told the YCSO that the seizure was one of the country’s largest in 2015, and the amount involved would have made up several million “hits” on the street.
Angulo and Soto are each now serving five-year prison terms.
“Recently, the Drug Enforcement Administration warned law enforcement personnel to avoid contact with Fentanyl during drug seizures and arrests because it is easily absorbed through the skin, or accidentally inhaled if the powder becomes airborne during handing.,” D’Evelyn said. “As soon as the December 2015 lab test results were received, warnings and drug handling procedures for area Yavapai County law enforcement agencies were enhanced to protect officers from exposure.”