The FBI’s Pascagoula Safe Streets Task Force has recovered 833 grams of fentanyl powder and 99 pharmaceutical dosage units improperly marked as oxycodone.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, two milligrams of fentanyl is a lethal dose. Based on this data, the fentanyl powder recovered (833.05 grams) is 416,525 lethal dosage units, or enough to kill nearly 14 percent of Mississippi’s population.
During the bust that occurred back in July, the FBI, DEA and Metropolitan Enforcement Team executed a search warrant at the residence of 43-year-old Dale Ricardo Easterling, Sr., of Moss Point, following his arrest by Louisiana State Police. LSP discovered seven kilograms (16.48 pounds) of Cocaine in a hidden compartment of the vehicle Easterling was driving.
At the residence, agents recovered what they believed to be 833.05 grams of cocaine and 99 Oxycodone dosage units. However, lab tests proved the 833.05 grams of powder to be fentanyl, and the 99 dosage units of what they thought was oxycodone turned out to contain fentanyl. Agents also recovered six pounds of marijuana, four pounds of marijuana brownies, a .45 caliber Glock pistol and $10,000.
“Fentanyl is the most prevalent and the most significant threat to the United States, including here in Mississippi, where as little as two milligrams of fentanyl is a lethal dose to one person,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge J. Derryle Smith. “This seizure, which was almost one kilogram, has saved countless lives – it was enough fentanyl to kill approximately half a million people. DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those who ruthlessly traffic this and other dangerous drugs.”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2016, synthetic opioids (primarily illegal fentanyl) passed prescription opioids as the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths in the United States. In 2016, synthetic opioids were involved in nearly 50 percent (19,413) of opioid-related deaths, up from 14 percent (3,007) in 2010.
According to the DEA, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. fentanyl is commonly added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin. Many users believe they are purchasing heroin and actually don’t know they are purchasing fentanyl – which often results in overdose deaths.
The FBI Safe Streets Task Force is a Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative and receives funding from the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington, D.C. It is made up of Special Agents from the FBI and law enforcement officers from the Pascagoula, Moss Point, Gautier and Ocean Springs Police Departments, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Border Patrol.
“The FBI and our partners want to warn the public of the dangers of fentanyl and encourage opioid abusers to dispose of opioids purchased illegally,” said Christopher Freeze, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi. “In conjunction with the DEA, MBN and others, there are numerous places across Mississippi and surrounding states that you can securely dispose of controlled substances, no questions asked.”
A list of drop box locations throughout Mississippi, provided by Stand Up Mississippi, can be found by clicking here. The DEA also offers a list of sites to dispose of unused controlled substances by clicking here.