An illegal immigrant from Mexico has been indicted this week by a federal grand jury in Texas for allegedly attempting to traffic 33 kilograms of fentanyl across state lines.
Assmir Contreras-Martinez, 30, a former Mexican police officer, was charged Thursday with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
The U.S. attorney’s office said such a high quantity of the deadly synthetic opioid, which is “50 times more potent than heroin,” would have had the potential to kill upward of 10 million Americans.
“Fentanyl is the number one threat causing our opioid epidemic in the United States,” Clyde E. Shelley Jr., special agent in charge of the DEA’s Dallas Field Division, said in a statement.
“This seizure alone has potentially save[d] millions of lives,” Shelley added.
Contreras-Martinez was apprehended in May, according to a report from KFDA-TV, when he nearly rear-ended a Texas Department of Public Safety officer on the highway in his Ford Explorer.
The officer pulled over Contreras-Martinez and found three compartments loaded up with a combined 33 one-kilogram bundles suspected to be cocaine.
“Subsequent testing revealed the substance was actually fentanyl,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in the news release.
Assmir Contreras-Martinez was allegedly discovered with roughly 33 kilograms of Fentanyl – likely enough to kill more than 10 million people, according to DEA experts.
— KAMR Local 4 News (@KAMRLocal4News) July 26, 2019
“Fentanyl is devastating communities across the country,” Nealy Cox said in a statement. “We cannot tolerate the trafficking of this deadly drug through North Texas — especially by those who are charged with protecting our communities, foreign or domestic.”
Contreras-Martinez was residing illegally in Tuscon, Arizona, having entered the United States less than a year ago, the news release said.
The man allegedly admitted to officials that he had been trafficking the drugs from California to Florida for $6,000.
He said he had been doing so for lack of income since his illegal arrival in the United States.
The May trip would have been his second.
The Friday news release said Contreras-Martinez faces a maximum of 30 years in federal prison.
He also may be deported after serving his sentence — an ineffectual measure considering a 2016 report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that 82.6 percent of illegal immigrants sentenced in the United States are convicted of illegal reentry.
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