Authorities in Missouri caught a woman smuggling enough fentanyl to kill 1.5 million people as she traveled from Los Angeles to New York by bus.
Detectives with the Kansas City Police Department approached 33-year-old Evelyn C. Sanchez at a bus station Tuesday where they quickly became suspicious about her reasons for traveling to New York. A K-9 unit soon alerted the detectives to the presence of narcotics in a gray suitcase underneath the bus seat where Sanchez had been sitting, reports the New York Post.
Authorities found two packages wrapped in a large amount of plastic containing more than five pounds of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl. Officials with Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) St. Louis Division said the seizure was enough to make roughly “1.5 million lethal doses.” (RELATED: Heroin Dealer Faces Life In Prison After Pleading Guilty To Causing 27 Opioid Overdoses, Including Nine That Proved Fatal)
“We task these interdiction groups with an increasingly difficult task … to seize drugs before they hit the streets of our communities,” said DEA St. Louis Division Special Agent in Charge William Callahan, according to the New York Post. “Today, they made an impact. They kept this poison out of our neighborhoods and potentially saved countless lives.”
Sanchez, who is currently in federal custody, faces a charge of possessing fentanyl with the intent to distribute.
Synthetic opioids like fentanyl killed roughly 27,000 people across the U.S. in 2017, up from roughly 19,413 in 2016 and 9,580 lives in 2015, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Overall, drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016, according to the CDC. Officials say preliminary data shows drug overdoses killed roughly 72,000 people across the U.S. in 2017.
The epidemic is contributing to declining life expectancy in the U.S., officials say. Life expectancy dropped for the second consecutive year in 2016 for the first time since an outbreak of influenza in 1962 and 1963.
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