Heart-shaped pills laced with fentanyl seized in $8 million drug bust, authorities say

Three men were arrested and authorities seized over 220 pounds of controlled substances in a major drug bust earlier this month that included pink fentanyl-laced pills shaped like hearts, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said in a news release.

Of an estimated 10 million doses seized, 8 million were “doses of fentanyl and methamphetamine laced pills and powder,” according to the release.

The seizure, which netted drugs with an estimated street value of more than of $8 million, is believed to be “one of the largest single-location seizures of fentanyl and methamphetamine in Massachusetts and the region,” the release states.

The bust comes amid an ongoing national opioid overdose crisis and as an increase in reports of so-called rainbow fentanyl being sold across the country has worried parents and health officials.

“The only thing more depraved than trafficking deadly fentanyl is trafficking deadly fentanyl designed to look like candy to appeal to teenagers,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in the release.

“The Justice Department is focused on attacking every link in the global fentanyl trafficking chain, and we will not stop until those responsible for the fentanyl poisoning epidemic are brought to justice,” said Garland.

The three men arrested were identified by the US Attorney’s Office as Emilio Garcia, 25; Sebastien Bejin, 33; and Deiby Felix, 40. They are set appear in court next week. CNN has reached out to the attorneys for all three for comment.

The investigation that led to the seizure started in July after an overdose death in Salem, Massachusetts, which led investigators to a drug trafficking organization run by Garcia, Bejin and Felix, according to the news release.

The three suspects were surveilled for three months, which eventually led to their arrests on November 1 and the search of four locations associated with the men, according to the release.

The seizure included over 220 pounds of controlled substances, with a total street value of upwards of $8 million. - U.S. Attorney's Office District of Massachusetts
The seizure included over 220 pounds of controlled substances, with a total street value of upwards of $8 million. - U.S. Attorney's Office District of Massachusetts

From the basement of a home occupied by families and children, investigators seized large quantities of controlled substances, authorities said. Five firearms were found during searches, according to investigators.

Opioid overdose epidemic

The US has been dealing with an opioid overdose epidemic for decades, but in 2013, fentanyl started fueling an alarming rise in synthetic opioid overdose deaths. Many of those overdoses and deaths are linked to fentanyl made illegally, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recent CDC data shows more than 109,000 people in the United States died of a drug overdose in the 12-month period ending March 2022, with synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, involved in more than two-thirds of those deaths, recent CDC data show.

Overdose deaths among adolescents ­ – and even younger children who consume the drugs accidentally – are on the rise, studies have shown.

The Biden administration has urged schools to purchase and stock naloxone, an over-the-counter nasal spray that acts as an antidote to opioid overdose.

CNN’s Amanda Musa Jen Christensen and Jacqueline Howard contributed to this report.

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