Bags of fentanyl pills
Bags of fentanyl pills. Courtesy Drug Enforcement Administration

Federal prosecutors in San Diego announced Tuesday that 26 people have been indicted for alleged drug smuggling and trafficking as part of a two-year investigation that led to the seizure of nearly 500,000 counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the charges stem from an investigation into an alleged international drug-trafficking conspiracy, which prosecutors say involved the trafficking of drugs from Mexico into the United States.

Prosecutors say traffickers coordinated shipments into the United States of pills that contained fentanyl, powder fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.

The investigation has resulted in the arrests of 17 defendants, 14 of whom are residents of San Diego, San Ysidro, Chula Vista or El Cajon.

“Efforts remain ongoing to apprehend the remaining defendants,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Agents also seized more than 478,000 counterfeit pharmaceutical pills laced with fentanyl, along with other drugs and around $230,000 in assets, officials said.

“This long-term investigation has resulted in the seizure of nearly half a million fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills plus additional quantities of fentanyl in powder form,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said. “As fentanyl continues to fuel the ongoing opioid epidemic and claim ever more lives, we will use every available resource to find, apprehend, and hold accountable those who seek to profit from it, no matter where they are.”

City News Service contributed to this article.



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Ellen Bullock