Oregon police seize 100,000 fentanyl pills in one of two busts

OREGON, USA (KGW) — Oregon State Police made two big drug busts in Oregon in the past week. They came after routine traffic stops by state troopers. It put a dent in the fentanyl that otherwise would have been heading to the streets of the Pacific Northwest.

The traffic stops near La Grande in eastern Oregon and near Salem both involved the discovery of fentanyl and other hard drugs that could have done an enormous amount of human damage.

Starting in La Grande last Friday morning, an OSP trooper said they noticed criminal activity during a traffic stop.

A search of the vehicle turned up 100,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, 2 pounds of powdered fentanyl and 6 pounds of cocaine. 36-year-old Moises Rojo Velazquez of Glendale, Arizona is now facing drug trafficking charges.

This type of crime is a federal offense and prosecutors are seeing a lot of it.

“I’ve been a prosecutor for nearly 25 years, and this is absolutely a crisis,” said Scott Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Kerin said that federal prosecutors are serious about making those who are trafficking fentanyl pay.

“We’re coming for you, this is all hands-on-deck, and our U.S. Attorney is absolutely committed to the disruption and prosecution of fentanyl,” said Kerin.

The U.S. Attorney’s office will also be handling the prosecution of another drug bust from a traffic stop near Salem, just last Sunday. In a photo released by OSP, illegal drugs are stacked on the hood of a trooper’s SUV.

Kerin said that fentanyl’s deadly consequences may be hard to comprehend. He points to a more than 600% increase in fentanyl overdose deaths in Oregon from 2019 to 2021. He explained how little it takes of the synthetic opioid to take a human life, using a 2.5-gram packet of sugar.

“In this, if you measure it out 2 milligrams being a fatal amount, this packet of sugar would contain — if it was fentanyl — about 1,400 potentially lethal doses of fentanyl,” said Kerin.

Meanwhile, police found fentanyl and other items inside a hotel room on Northeast 181st Avenue in Portland this week: $40,000 in cash, a thousand suspected fentanyl pills and several pounds of powder that police think is also fentanyl. Officers also seized equipment used to make and distribute the deadly drug.

Nobody was in the hotel room when the officers arrived, so no arrests have been made yet, but the investigation is continuing.

Investigators say this adds up to 51 pounds of suspected methamphetamine, 31 pounds of suspected powder fentanyl, 9 pounds of suspected cocaine and 2 pounds of suspected heroin. The trooper’s K-9 Titan sniffed it out and now 22-year-old Miguel Cruz-Barrales, address unknown, is facing federal drug charges.

Kerin believes the fentanyl crisis can be solved, but it will take everyone to do it — police and prosecutors but also more prevention and treatment, education and people looking out for each other, raising awareness.


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