Authorities seized what they described as a massive and potentially lethal quantity of drugs.
Buena Park police recovered 821 pounds of methamphetamine, 189.7 pounds of cocaine and 20.5 pounds of fentanyl pills in a traffic stop of a minivan on March 17, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Edgar Alfonso Lamaslopez, 36, and Carlos Raygozaparedes, 53, were charged March 21 with multiple felonies, and the pair pleaded not guilty that same day. They are next due in court May 16 at the North Justice Center in Fullerton for a pretrial hearing.
The two were being held in lieu of $5 million bail.
The Orange County DA’s office noted in particular the potential lethality of fentanyl when someone overdoses. They said the amount of the opioid that was seized could kill 4.7 million people, based on death resulting from a 2 milligram dose.
Medical experts agree with that estimate.
Dr. Anthony Cardillo, CEO of Mend Urgent Care, told Eyewitness News that physicians are very careful about prescribing fentanyl for patients who need pain control.
The standard dose is 50 to 100 micrograms, Cardillo said. Levels at 500 micrograms or higher are used for anesthetic purposes and if someone were to take 2 milligrams, it “would certainly be lethal,” he said.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said: “Millions of unsuspecting people have the grim reaper looking over their shoulder and they have no idea how close they actually are to dying from taking a single pill. Fentanyl is cheap, it’s easy to get and it is killing our children, our coworkers, and tens of thousands of innocent Americans who don’t have to die.
READ MORE: Drug ring that operated from LA to Philadelphia busted, 83 pounds of meth seized
Lamaslopez’s attorney, Wilo Nunez, said the $5 million figure amounted to “no bail.” Nunez said his client is “presumed innocent” and that he has just received the evidence in the case from prosecutors and would reserve further comment until later when he has had a chance to review it.
Lamaslopez and Raygozaparedes are charged with three felony counts each of possession of a controlled substance with the attempt to sell and sale or transport of a controlled substance, and they face sentencing enhancements for substances exceeding 80 kilograms by weight and 20 kilograms by weight or 400 liters by liquid volume.
“Drug dealers don’t care about you or your loved ones – they only care about their bottom line and making as much money as possible,” Spitzer said. “With fentanyl in an estimated 40 percent of street drugs, it’s not a matter of if but when someone you know and love dies from fentanyl. We have to continue to do everything we can to combat this deadly drug epidemic and save lives.”
The men both face up to 37 years and four months in prison if convicted at trial.
Spitzer’s office is emphasizing the potential lethality of the drug in part because of a new approach to prosecuting drug dealers potentially for murder in the event of an overdose.
The video in the media player above is from a previous story.
City News Service contributed to this report
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