(NewsNation) — One million pills containing fentanyl were seized during a raid near Los Angeles this month in what the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration called the largest bust of its kind ever in California.
The pills were found when agents served a search warrant on July 5 at a home in Inglewood that investigators believe was a stash house with links to Sinaloa cartel traffickers, the DEA said in a statement.
“This massive seizure disrupted the flow of dangerous amounts of fentanyl into our streets and probably saved many lives,” DEA Special Agent Bill Bodner said in the statement.
The pills have an estimated street value of $15 to $20 million dollars, officials said.
The Sinaloa cartel was founded by the notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is currently serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison.
This is far from exclusively a California problem. The Texas Department of Public Safety said since March of last year, they’ve seized 1,630 pounds of the drug — equivalent to over 369 million lethal doses and enough to kill the entire U.S. population.
“It’s a very heavily profited drug,” said Lt. Chris Olivarez, spokesperson with the Texas DPS. “They get the precursors from China. They are then able to manufacture these tablets and Americans believe it’s some type of depressant or stimulant but what they don’t realize is it’s a 100 percent dose of fentanyl.”
Drug trafficking is only one part of the equation. The other big part is human smuggling. Involved in a car chase in Del Rio, Texas, last week, Texas DPS ran a fleeing truck down and after it stopped, roughly a dozen migrants hopped out, making a break for it. Most were eventually caught.
Days earlier, a similar incident occurred in Mission, Texas. Migrants typically pay tens of thousands of dollars to be smuggled across the border, then driven north. Experts say the cartels oftentimes take advantage of those most desperate.
“They have this whole apparatus where they’re really preying upon people,” said Victor Manjarrez, border security instructor at The University of Texas at El Paso. “And I think that’s the thing that’s most misunderstood.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.