A man and a woman were arrested in a massive drug bust that led to the seizure of enough of a powerful synthetic opioid to possibly kill more than 50 million people in southern California, authorities said.
Andres Jesus Morales, 30, and Christine Ponce, 27, were each charged with four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance for sale, The Riverside District Attorney’s Office said in a statement on Thursday.
The pair are believed to be a couple, according to The Press-Enterprise, were nabbed following a months-long investigation into a suspected opioid drug ring in Riverside County.
On Aug. 17, police raided a home in Perris, where they seized 21 kilograms, or about 46 pounds, of suspected carfentanil, a deadly synthetic opioid that is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl and 10,000 times more powerful than morphine, with lethal doses measuring in just the nanograms, according to officials.
A fatal dose of fentanyl is two milligrams. According to the DEA, it is even deadly to the touch as it can be absorbed through the skin, and is not made for human use.
Police said they believe it is the single largest seizure of carfentanil in Riverside County history.
“If mixed in with other drugs, the 21 kilos of carfentanil seized could have been enough to potentially kill more than 50 million people,” cops said.
No one was home at the time, however police identified Morales and Ponce as suspects.
Then, on Sept. 14, detectives raided another home in Perris where they seized 16 kilos, or 35 pounds, of cocaine and arrested the two alleged dealers.
Morales and Ponce were arraigned on Thursday and have both pleaded not guilty. They are both being held without bail pending their next appearance in court, scheduled for Nov. 9.