THE BRONX — When DEA agents stopped Carlos Ramirez, of Colorado, near the Umbrella Hotel on Elton Avenue in the Bronx, he told them he was staying in room No. 708.
The DEA had noticed Ramirez open the rear passenger door of a car and put a cylindrical package on the floor.
When the agents took a ride to the hotel’s seventh floor, they noticed something strange on top of a vending machine — right near Ramirez’s room.
It was a black duffel bag filled with 17 packages, each of them wrapped in black tape.
One of the packages was punctured, and agents thought the tan powdery substance was heroin.
The discovery was made on June 19 and the packages were sent to a lab.
Turns out, the substance was fentanyl — the deadly man-made opioid that’s being mixed with heroin doses all over the country.
It’s driving an alarming spike in fatal overdoses in New York City, which reached an all-time high of 1,374 in 2016.
This bag contained 40 pounds of fentanyl — the largest seizure ever by the DEA in the city. That’s enough fentanyl to produce 7 million lethal doses of product.
It takes only 2 to 3 milligrams of fentanyl — the size of two to three grains of salt — to kill someone.
A 10-year-old boy in Miami recently died on his way home from a swimming pool and an autopsy showed he’d been exposed to a small amount of fentanyl.
The fentanyl could have been on a beach towel or in a bathroom stall. No one knows how the child was exposed.
Carlos Ramirez was indicted Tuesday for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in Manhattan Supreme Court. Bail was set at $200,000 bond or $100,000 cash.
Because of how lucrative the drug market is now, there’s a chance someone will cough up the money for him.
“The potential for widespread loss of life was averted only through the investigative skill and fortunate timing of law enforcement officers,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said.
“They seized forty pounds of fentanyl, casually tossed on top of a vending machine in a Bronx hotel hallway, the largest single recovery of fentanyl by the DEA in New York.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt noted that fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin.
“It is a fact, opioid traffickers are mixing heroin with fentanyl because it is more potent and more profitable,” he said. “In turn, heroin users are putting their lives in drug dealers’ hands every time they buy a bag.”
The news about the Ramirez indictment came as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is leading a presidential commission on the nation’s opioid crisis, called on President Donald Trump to declare the epidemic a national, public health emergency.
Appearing on CNN Monday night, Christie said the commission discovered they “have a 9/11-scale loss of life every three weeks.”
The Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks killed nearly 3,000 people in a single morning.
Much of the fentanyl that’s arriving in the United States now is coming from Mexican drug labs. The deadly product used to be mixed primarily in China.