Authorities in Portland, Oregon, made the biggest fentanyl bust in the history of Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office last week, seizing tens of thousands of pills and powder.
Deputies seized gallon-sized plastic bags of 58,000 fentanyl pills and 16 pounds of fentanyl powder in Portland’s Goose Hollow neighborhood on Tuesday, the law enforcement agency said in a press release.
They also seized scales, a manual-operated pill press, a commercial-grade pill press, $5,000 in cash, and a stolen handgun, the sheriff’s office said. The handgun had been reported stolen, according to its serial number.
The fentanyl pills and powder would have been worth between $320,000 and $400,000 on the streets of Portland, the sheriff’s office estimated.
The identity of an arrested suspect has not yet been released.
The bust was the result of a months-long investigation by the sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on disrupting large drug trafficking and criminal organizations.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for a wanted man’s car and apartment and watched him walk to a vehicle before taking him into custody “at the opportune time,” the sheriff’s office said.
The second biggest fentanyl bust the sheriff’s office made happened last year when deputies seized 92,000 fentanyl pills and other drugs during a traffic stop.
“One pill can kill,” the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office reminded in its press release.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is cheap to make and easily transported, is about 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Because it is often cut with other drugs, users may often be unaware that they are consuming the powerful substance, which can be deadly even in small doses.
As little as two milligrams of fentanyl weighing the same as a few grains of salt can cause a fatal overdose, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
In a public safety alert, the DEA said that six out of ten fentanyl pills the agency tests contain a potentially lethal dose.
In 2022, more than two-thirds of the 107,081 drug overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids, mostly illegal fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In Portland, a fentanyl crisis is raging where multiple people can fatally overdose in a single weekend. Over the weekend of May 12, police said eight people died of suspected fentanyl powder overdoses.
As of May 16, Multnomah County had recorded 504 total drug overdose deaths since June 2022, according to the Tri-County Opioid Safety Coalition.
Portland, where many businesses operate, is notorious for open-air drug dealing, public urination, and petty crime. Foot traffic downtown plummeted during COVID and has remained down as businesses struggle from the riots and pandemic lockdowns.
Crime has also spiked in Portland since the pandemic.
Since COVID, shootings in Portland have tripled, homicides have risen from 36 in 2019 to a record 97 in 2022, and car thefts have spiked to 11,000 last year, up from 6,500 in 2019.
The homeless population in Oregon at large, which comes hand in hand with the drug addiction crisis, has increased by 23% in just two years, one of the largest increases in the country.