SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Two Texas men face 10 years to life in prison for trafficking enough fentanyl through Northwest Louisiana to severely affect if not kill 5 million people, authorities say.
Felipe Rodriguez, 22, of McAllen, and 24-year-old Brandon Montoya, of Kaufman, each recently pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Shreveport to a charge of possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute.
Now both also could be fined $10 million when they are sentenced Jan. 31.
And each could be ordered to serve at least five years on federal supervised release once they are released from prison.
Louisiana authorities intercepted the opioid during a traffic stop May 10 on Interstate 20 just west of Haughton.
A state trooper was searching an SUV at mile marker 31 when he found a compartment in the rear cargo area of eastbound vehicle.
He could see a plastic bag through an opening in the compartment, authorities have said.
The SUV then was taken to Louisiana State Police Troop G headquarters in Bossier City, where a more thorough search turned up 10 plastic bags.
Each contained 1 kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of fentanyl.
Montoya and Rodriguez told authorities that someone had approached them in Houston about picking up the drugs in California, according to the complaint filed in the case.
They were to be paid for the delivery once they arrived in Atlanta.
Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid.
The drug and its derivatives can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin or mucus membranes.
Only 2 grams - much less than an ounce - is fatal for most people.
“Fentanyl is the greatest and the most significant synthetic opioid threat to the United States, including here in Louisiana, where as little as 2 milligrams is a lethal dose,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam says in a statement about the convictions.
“The seizure in this investigation, which was 10 kilograms, saved countless lives. There was enough fentanyl to kill 5 million people."
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