More than 4.5 million fentanyl pills, 3,000 pounds of methamphetamine seized in Arizona investigation, DEA says

Some of the drugs recovered by Arizona authorities were displayed during a news conference last week.

(CNN)Arizona authorities targeting the Sinaloa drug cartel have seized narcotics estimated to be worth more than $13 million, including more than 4.5 million fentanyl pills, 3,100 pounds of methamphetamine and large quantities of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl powder, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In a news release, the agency said the seizure was the culmination of a three-year-long investigation during which 150 people had so far been charged.
"The fentanyl seized represents more than 30 million potentially lethal doses," the DEA said, announcing the seizure in partnership with the Tempe Police Department and Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes.
      Authorities displayed some of the recovered narcotics at a joint news conference Thursday, attended by CNN affiliate KNXV.
        "The sample you see here today is staggering. There are over 4.5 million fentanyl pills, over 140 pounds of fentanyl powder, over 135 kilos of cocaine, over 3,000 pounds of methamphetamine, 35 kilos of heroin, 49 firearms and over $2 million in cash," Interim Tempe Police Chief Josie Montenegro told reporters.
          Montenegro said the substances recovered "would be poisoning members of our community, including our youth and vulnerable population," had the seizures not been made.
          "In addition, the dangers and crimes associated with illegal drugs would be plaguing our community," Montenegro added.
          According to authorities, "numerous" people were taken into custody in the bust. At this time, authorities do not plan on releasing the names of those involved because it is a continuing investigation, according to Montenegro.
          Phoenix DEA Special Agent in Charge Cheri Oz said investigators are "laser-focused" on the Sinaloa cartel.
          "I want to be crystal clear, the drugs in this room and the drugs that are flooding Arizona every single day are sourced primarily by one evil as the Sinaloa drug cartel," she said at the news conference. "We are laser-focused on the Sinaloa drug cartel and we will defeat them. We will not stop."
          Oz also praised the efforts of DEA agents and other officers over the last three years. "Their hard work and tenacity is responsible for removing these deadly drugs before they poisoned our family, our friends and our neighborhoods," she said.
          The country is struggling with a decades-long opioid epidemic in which fentanyl has become the most commonly used drug involved in overdoses.
            Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid intended to help patients manage severe pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and typically prescribed in the form of skin patches or lozenges. But most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the United States are linked to illegally made fentanyl, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
            Deaths involving synthetic opioids increased by 22% in 2021, according to CDC data, and in 2022, there were about 181,806 nonfatal opioid overdoses recorded in the United States.