A search warrant served at a Turlock home late Thursday night resulted in the seizure of 11 kilograms of powdered fentanyl and the arrest of a suspect, the Turlock Police Department reported.
The search warrant was served by the Turlock Police Department Special Investigations Unit and the Central Valley Gang Impact Taskforce at a residence in the 1000 block of W. Avenue South around 11 p.m.
“This amount of fentanyl is capable of producing over seven million fentanyl pills for distribution in communities,” said Turlock Police Chief Jason Hedden. “This poison has no place on our streets and we will continue to dismantle these operations until the message is clear that this is not welcomed or tolerated in Turlock.”
Evidence of narcotics sales was found at the residence as well.
Frank Romero, 44, of Turlock was taken into custody at the residence and booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and intent to distribute a controlled substance. As of Friday evening, Romero remained in custody in lieu of a $100,000 bail.
“The dismantling of a major narcotics sales operation is yet another example of your police department’s relentless effort in keeping our neighborhoods safe,” said Turlock Police Capt. Miguel Pacheco. “We want to thank the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office for providing air support for this operation. We could not be prouder of our staff and our partnering agencies.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the California Department of Public Health. There are two types of fentanyl, both of which are synthetic opioids. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain, such as while in the hospital for and after surgery or for advanced-stage cancer. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is available on the drug market in different forms, including liquid and powder and is often added to other drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, counterfeit pills, and cocaine.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, fentanyl has been mixed into counterfeit pills, mimicking pharmaceutical drugs such as oxycodone. The DEA found that “two out of every five counterfeit pills with fentanyl contains a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.” The DEA estimates that approximately one kilogram of fentanyl can kill 500,000 people.
The DEA seized more than 379 million doses of fentanyl across the country in 2022. Of that, 28,765 pounds were seized in California.
The Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services recorded 156 drug-related deaths in the county in 2022, according to their preliminary data. Fentanyl was found to be the cause in 113 of those deaths. Fourteen of the county’s fentanyl-related deaths last year took place in Turlock, according to the BHRS.
Pockets of Stanislaus County have recorded high rates of opioid deaths and overdoses, particularly in Modesto. The county launched an educational campaign, “One Pill Can Kill” and has held multiple workshops and townhall meetings for the various communities. They also launched the Stanislaus County Opioid Safety Coalition, which works to connect and enhance resources to prevent opioid use.
“Awareness and education are the initial steps to prevention,” said Tony Vartan, Stanislaus County BHRS director at a Turlock townhall held late last year. “We continue to use the input and expertise of our Opioid Safety Coalition to look at data and national approaches to add to our ongoing strategies. We all have a shared responsibility to protect our community.”
Turlock Police Department staff ask that anyone with information regarding this incident to call their drug line at (209) 668-5550 ext. 6117. People can also contact the Turlock Police Department’s Tip Line at (209) 668-5550 extension 6780 or email at email@example.com.