Days after federal officials announced the largest fentanyl seizure in New York City history, an even greater quantity of the highly addictive substance has been found, authorities say.
Two people have been arrested and charged with multiple drug and firearm charges in connection to the seizure on October 7 at a Bronx apartment building, prosecutors said in a news release.
Authorities found roughly 300,000 rainbow-colored fentanyl pills inside two closets in the apartment, and more than 22 pounds of the drug in powdered form were wrapped in clear plastic packaging in multiple rooms, according to the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York. The total sum of the drugs is worth about $9 million in street value, officials said.
The historic seizure saved lives, according to DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino.
“Hundreds of thousands of lethal pills were lying in wait in a Bronx apartment to be unleashed onto our streets. In today’s world, the potential to overdose is dangerously high,” Tarentino said. “There is no quality control in these fake pills and it only takes two milligrams of fentanyl to be lethal.”
The seizure comes after federal officials announced last week that a woman has been charged with concealing about 15,000 rainbow-colored fentanyl pills in a Lego box as part of a drug trafficking scheme in September. That seizure at the time was also deemed the largest of fentanyl in New York City’s history.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s highly addictive. It can be up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control said.
Rainbow fentanyl comes in bright colors and can be used in pill form or powder.
“Rainbow fentanyl is the latest threat we face in our fight against the opioid epidemic that sadly continues to ravage our communities – a multi-colored poison specifically designed to attract younger users,” Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly said.
And as Halloween nears, officials have been warning families to be especially vigilant regarding their children’s candy before they consume it.
The dangerous drug has been a major driver of fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the US as well as the opioid epidemic.
Although there has been a slight decrease in recent months in drug overdose deaths, the numbers remain high. About 108,000 people died of a drug overdose in the 12-month period ending May 2022 – which is down from the record high of more than 110,000 deaths reported in the 12-month period that ended March 2022, CDC provisional data published Wednesday shows.
The latest overdose death figure remains 32% than it was two years earlier and higher than any other period before November 2021, according to the CDC data. Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, were involved in more than two-thirds of deaths in the 12-month period ending May 2022, and psychostimulants were involved in nearly a third.