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HSI San Diego spearheads seizure of more than 720,000 pills and related arrest

SAN DIEGO — A joint operation in San Diego County resulted in the Feb. 9 felony arrest of a suspect and the seizure of 720,000 fentanyl pills.

The Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Diego Fentanyl Abatement and Suppression Team (FAST), in collaboration with the California Department of Justice San Diego Fentanyl Enforcement Program, the U.S. Border Patrol and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, arrested an individual driving a vehicle containing a large quantity of fentanyl in Alpine.

“This massive bust is the largest fentanyl seizure since DOJ announced a partnership between our Fentanyl Enforcement Program and FAST Task Force,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “I am grateful for the work of our special agents and law enforcement partners in getting these illicit and dangerous drugs off our streets.

Officials removed 110 packages from the vehicle with a total combined weight of 72.05 kilograms (158.8 pounds). The packages contained blue pills with “M30” markings, and the initial investigation determined the pills contained fentanyl. Law enforcement authorities estimated approximately 720,000 fentanyl pills were removed from the vehicle. The California Department of Justice will prosecute the case.

HSI San Diego FAST is a multiagency task force comprising state, local and federal partners and was first established in August 2022 focusing on the disruption and dismantlement of criminal organizations that smuggle and distribute fentanyl within San Diego County. HSI’s FAST targets fentanyl smuggling and distribution networks to counter the rising overdose rate and decrease the availability and accessibility of fentanyl.

In 2022, and in response to the fentanyl epidemic, the California Legislature and the Governor approved appropriation for the creation of the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation’s Fentanyl Enforcement Program. The Fentanyl Enforcement Program works with local and federal law enforcement partners throughout the state to address the fentanyl crisis and get these dangerous drugs off California’s streets. The program comprises Bureau of Investigation regional investigative teams placed in San Diego, Los Angeles, Dublin and Sacramento. A special agent in charge serves as the program manager and each team has a special agent supervisor, five special agents, a staff services analyst, and a crime analyst. Through collaboration with existing Bureau of Investigation task forces, the Fentanyl Enforcement Program works with local and federal law enforcement partners throughout the state to address the fentanyl crisis and targets major fentanyl-trafficking criminal networks. The program leverages existing Bureau of Investigation task forces and local and federal law enforcement partnerships to identify, investigate, disrupt and dismantle these criminal networks. The Bureau of Investigation has the unique expertise, statewide perspective and vertical prosecution model to impact fentanyl-trafficking criminal networks.

A criminal complaint contains charges that are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Originally published at https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/hsi-san-diego-spearheads-seizure-more-720000-pills-and-related-arrest

- Part of VUGA -USA media group