It's the nation's largest seizure of fentanyl, and it was right here in San Diego. A long-term investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration also led to a federal indictment against three alleged traffickers.
According to the indictment, 45-year-old Jonathan Ibarra, 46-year-old Hector Fernando Garcia, and 30-year-old are charged with possession of 44.14 kilograms of fentanyl with intent to distribute. Most of the deadly synthetic opiate was seized from a house in Lemon Grove.
According to a search warrant affidavit, the defendants discussed the transportation of a then-unidentified controlled substance. Ibarra received instructions on Nov. 30, 2016, to have a female courier, later identified as Baker, transport the narcotics in three trips on consecutive days. Based on that information, agents requested a traffic stop of Baker's rented vehicle and seized about 15 kilograms of a substance later determined to be fentanyl.
Law enforcement officers then obtained a search warrant for Baker's residence, where they found about 30 additional kilograms of the same substance. According to authorities, drug traffickers use pure fentanyl powder to increase the potency of heroin or to manufacture counterfeit opioid painkillers that resemble oxycodone.
Due to fentanyl's extreme potency, up to 50 times stronger than heroin, deaths from fentanyl-laced heroin and counterfeit pills are epidemic in the United States, officials said. Considering that just 3 milligrams is enough to kill an adult male, the 44.14 kilogram seizure represents more than 14 million lethal doses.
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