'This is not a recreational drug. This is death': Record 1.7M fentanyl pills seized in Arizona

Scottsdale Police and federal officials have announced a record fentanyl bust in the Valley, with nearly 1.7 million pills being taken off the street.

Over the past two months, the Scottsdale DEA task force undertook an investigation involving the Sinaloa Cartel after there was a reported surge of fentanyl pills found in the area. A courier reportedly led them to all the pills, and the bust happened on Dec. 14.

Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther said nearly 1.7 million fentanyl pills (360 pounds) were seized, with an estimated street value of $9 million. Officials say 40% of the pills contain a lethal dose.

All the drugs found in recent months, including the record-breaking amount this week, may have saved 700,000 lives, officials say.

"It also included 10 kilograms of powdered fentanyl and one pound of methamphetamine. The total estimated value of the drugs in front of you is $9 million," said Chief Walther.

Just two milligrams of fentanyl can be a lethal dose.

Walther said, "The pills in front of you are death. These drugs in this form is what's driving our opioid crisis. Not just in Arizona, not just in this region, but across the country… This is not a recreational drug, this is death, and I think that's what we need to focus on."

The DEA has warned that Mexican cartels are mass-producing fake prescription pills lined with fentanyl with Arizona serving as a gateway for many of those drugs.

‘One pill can kill’

Shari Dukes knows what it is like to lose a loved one to an overdose.

Dukes' son, Ethan, died in 2019 at the age of 16 after taking a low-dose hydrocodone laced with fentanyl.

"It's life changing," Dukes said. "I was not the same person that I was before Ethan died. It has given me a pretty singular focus of living life and spreading messages that need to be spread."

Those messages include encourage and supporting other parents who have experienced loss, and offering advice for others on how to avoid such tragedy.

More resources: http://dea.gov/onepill

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