Portland a 'major transshipment hub' for fake tablets produced in Mexican labs, sergeant says
PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) – A 33-year-old Prineville man allegedly trafficking in fentanyl tablets from the Portland area to Central Oregon was pulled over and arrested late Friday night on Highway 126 near the Prineville Airport, drug agents said.
The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team wrapped up a short-term investigation with the 11:15 p.m. traffic stop of a Toyota Tacoma pickup, Sergeant Kent Vander Kamp said.
During a multi-county surveillance operation, CODE Team detectives sought and executed a search warrant, he said.
CODE Team detectives and Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies gathered and seized a commercial quantity of fake pharmaceutical tablets made of fentanyl, along with other evidence of commercial drug sales, Vander Kamp said.
The suspect was lodged in the Crook County Jail on drug possession and attempted distribution charges. Crook County sheriff's patrol deputies also assisted in the case.
Vander Kamp said a “commercial quantity” is defined by statute as five grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, or any substituted derivative of fentanyl, as defined by the rules of the Oregon Board of Pharmacy.
This is not a separate criminal charge, he said, rather an increase in the sentencing guidelines.
The greater Portland area is a major transshipment hub where illegal drugs coming from the southwest border are stored in local warehouses, storage units and residential properties, the sergeant said.
The bulk shipments of drugs are usually broken down into smaller quantities and transported to other states or distributed to local dealers. The Portland area has an international airport, interstate highways, and bus and train lines that make it easy for shipments to be smuggled to other destinations around the Pacific Northwest, Vander Kamp said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 107,000 people have died as a result from a drug overdose or poisoning in the U.S.
"Criminal drug networks in Mexico are mass-producing illicit fentanyl and fake pills pressed with fentanyl in filthy, clandestine, unregulated labs," Vander Kamp explained. "These fake pills are designed to look like real prescription pills, right down to the size, shape, color and stamping. These fake pills typically replicate real prescription opioid medications, such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®), or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®)."