It was a massive operation, pooling the resources of two dozen law enforcement agencies working together to bring down one of the largest illegal drug operations to take place in America.
The drug bust confiscated enough fentanyl to literally kill 14 million people, G. Zachary Terwilliger said. Other drugs were found including heroin and cocaine.
The ongoing investigation reached its conclusion recently and among the drugs were illegal re-entries made by previously deported or removed aliens from the country. Charges were filed against all of these people, who also were in possession with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, cocaine base and fentanyl.
Among all these people, were many firearms located at a facility in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Arrests also took place in South Carolina, other parts of Virginia and Texas. This drug network was huge.
Some of the other charges filed were possession of firearms, maintaining a drug-involved premises, use of a communication facility in furtherance of drug trafficking; interstate travel in aid of racketeering enterprises and other charges undisclosed yet.
An estimated 39 different individuals are thought to be behind all of this. So far, 35 out of 39 of them have been detained. Authorities mentioned that these criminals used burner type phones, Facebook and WhatsApp to communicate their drug transactions.
The drug bust was given the nickname “Operation Cookout”. From what is understood, officials seized 30 kilograms of fentanyl, 30 kilograms of heroin, five kilograms of cocaine, over $700,000 and roughly 24 firearms, including an AK-47 assault rifle.
“This opioid crisis is not an issue that is happening someplace else, or to someone else. It’s happening right here in Norfolk,” said Terwilliger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. The highly-addictive pharmaceutical fentanyl is used to treat severe pain. Fentanyl is a synthetic (man-made) opioid that is stronger than heroin.”
“Terwilliger said that most fentanyl comes from Chinese labs. There’s been an increased effort to hold China accountable for drugs like fentanyl that are manufactured there and smuggled to the U.S. Illegally-made fentanyl, is often mixed with heroin, cocaine or both, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
“Heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and cocaine base [was] transported within the Eastern District of Virginia using hidden traps in privately owned vehicles, couriers, and semi-trailers, trucks, and recreational vehicles,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney said.”
“It was further part of the conspiracy that the defendants and co-conspirators would utilize various locations throughout Hampton Roads to possess and prepare for distribution heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and cocaine base, and to meet and discuss previous and future narcotics transactions. These various locations include houses and parking lots of businesses located in Newport News, Hampton, Suffolk, Carrolton, Yorktown, Lawrenceville, South Hill, and Richmond.”
Deaths from overdose involving synthetic opioids jumped by 47% in the U.S. between 2016 and 2017, says the CDC. 28,400 people died that year from overdoses involving synthetic opioids.
(Source: Real Farmacy)