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March fentanyl bust nabs nearly 1 million pills

Seizure of the pills was part of the Counter Narcotics Alliance (CNA), an Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative
Posted at 6:12 PM, Apr 22, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — In a blow to fentanyl traffickers, authorities seized a massive cache of counterfeit prescription pills believed to contain fentanyl in late March, potentially saving countless lives in Tucson and beyond.

The Counter Narcotics Alliance (CNA), an Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative, confiscated 110 kilograms of purportedly counterfeit prescription pills—estimated to be over 1 million pills—on March 24 of this year.

The seizure underscores the severity of the fentanyl crisis gripping Southern Arizona.

Lieutenant Justin Lane, a lead counter-narcotics officer with the Tucson Police Department, emphasized the far-reaching impact of the operation.

"Technically every investigation into fentanyl has those comments to it, both domestic organized crime, drug trafficking organizations, as well as transnational criminal organizations," said Lane.

The operation, a joint effort involving Tucson police, federal authorities, and other local law enforcement agencies, represents a significant disruption to drug cartels' trafficking networks.

"So this particular seizure, if you do the math, you’ll see that it likely saved countless lives by getting this off the street," Lane said.

Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, has ravaged communities across the country, with the Tucson metro area experiencing 342 overdose deaths related to the drug last year alone, according to Tucson police.

Lane warned that this year is shaping up to be even deadlier.

The CNA, comprised of multiple law enforcement agencies including the Tucson Police Department, Marana Police Department, and Drug Enforcement Administration, continues to investigate the seizure, which they believe could have international implications.

The seizure underscores the ongoing battle against fentanyl trafficking and the collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies to combat the deadly epidemic.

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Eddie Celaya is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9. Born in Tucson and raised in the Phoenix area, Eddie is a life-long Arizonan and graduate of the University of Arizona who loves the desert and mountains and hates the cold. Previously, Eddie worked in print media at the Arizona Daily Star. Share your story ideas with Eddie at edward.celaya@kgun9.com, or by connecting on Facebook or Instagram.