A 26-year-old citizen of Mexico was sentenced today to 135 months in federal prison after authorities caught him transporting fentanyl, a powerful narcotic 50 times more potent than heroin, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
Jesus Florencio Chaparro-Sanchez pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute in August.
In late May, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper stopped Mr. Chaparro-Sanchez, who was driving a black Pontiac G6, for traffic violations. Near the vehicle’s rear axle, the officer located an after-market compartment. Inside, investigators discovered nine bundles of a white powdery substance.
Mr. Chaparro-Sanchez later admitted that a man in Mexico had offered him a job transporting the drugs. He said he knew the vehicle contained drugs, and claimed he thought he was transporting cocaine. DEA testing revealed that the substance was actually about four kilograms of Tramadol plus about five kilograms of fentanyl.
“This deadly drug is wreaking havoc across the country. Many users don’t realize traffickers are cutting other, less potent drugs with cheap fentanyl,” said Nealy Cox. “We have zero tolerance for those that support the distribution of dangerous drugs in America and we will do everything in our power to stop fentanyl’s spread across North Texas.”
“The country is battling an opioid epidemic that is taking lives by the minute. Fentanyl is fueling this deadly epidemic,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Division Clyde E. Shelley, Jr. “DEA Dallas will aggressively investigate and prosecute any and all persons involved in the illegal distribution of fentanyl throughout North Texas and Oklahoma.”
Fentanyl, which results in frequent overdoses, is responsible for the sharp increase in opioid deaths across the U.S. In just three years, the fentanyl death toll has risen more than 5,000 percent, from around 5,500 death in 2014 to almost 30,000 last year, according to the National Institute of Health. Because it can be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin, fentanyl poses a high risk of death not only to users, but to law enforcement. Just a few milligrams, equivalent to a few grains of table salt, may be deadly.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Texas Department of Public Safety conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Juanita Fielden is prosecuting the case.