Two Men Arrested For Allegedly Smuggling 91,000 Fentanyl Pills In Snack Food Containers

(Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

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Two Washington men were arrested for allegedly smuggling 91,000 fentanyl pills inside potato chip containers, according to authorities. 

Juan E. Hernandez-Hernandez and Alejandro Macias-Velazquez are connected to a criminal organization that imports bulk quantities of illegal drugs into the United States, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents learned that Hernandez-Hernandez arranged for the pills to be delivered in Bellingham, a coastal city in Washington, Fox News reported. Special agents later saw Macias-Velazquez in a parking lot delivering a duffel bag, according to Fox 13.

Upon arriving at the scene, authorities discovered approximately 22 pounds of fentanyl inside cardboard boxes and empty Lay’s Stax potato chip containers within the duffel bag, according to Fox 13. Authorities subsequently arrested the two suspects. (RELATED: Authorities Confiscate 150,000 Fentanyl Pills In Largest Seizure In Oregon’s History)

“Street sales of illicit forms of fentanyl are resulting in deaths in Whatcom County and across Washington,” Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said. The street sale price of the drug has plummeted due to its wide availability, Elfo went on to say. 

“The dangers of fentanyl cannot be understated, more so in an area where there have been recent overdose deaths attributed to fentanyl-laced pills,” said Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that serves a similar purpose as morphine but is 50 to 100 times stronger, according to NIH. It can be prescribed by a doctor to treat patients with severe pain, but it is also made and used illegally.

The CDC estimates that of the 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2021, about 80,816 were related to synthetic opioids.