Perris man caught with fentanyl
RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A Perris man who was caught with his girlfriend holding a sizable quantity of manufactured drugs with a potency far greater than most opioids was sentenced Friday to five years in state prison.
Andres Jesus Morales, 31, pleaded guilty last year to possession of controlled substances for sale, child endangerment and a sentence-enhancing allegation of being in possession of more than four kilograms of an illicit drug. In exchange for his admissions, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office dropped six related felony counts against him.
Superior Court Judge Gary Polk certified the terms of the plea agreement and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense.
Morales’ girlfriend, 28-year-old Alyssa Christine Ponce of Perris, admitted the same charges and was sentenced in July 2022 to two years in prison.
The pair were arrested in September 2021 following an extensive Riverside Police Department investigation that led to the discovery of 21 kilograms of carfentanil.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Riverside police had, since the start of 2021, been investigating a drug trafficking operation involving sales and distribution of fentanyl, cocaine and other drugs.
Detectives in August 2021 served a search warrant at a property on Glimmer Way in Perris, where they seized the cache of carfentanil, along with four kilos of coke and one kilo of heroin, prosecutors said.
No one was arrested at the time, but the investigation soon pointed to the defendants as the distributors, according to the D.A.’s office.
The carfentanil find was a shock, the agency said, because the synthetic substance is not intended for human consumption and carries grave risks if consumed on even micro levels.
“It is more potent and potentially much more deadly than fentanyl,” the D.A.’s office said in a statement immediately after the defendants were taken into custody. “Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. It only takes about two milligrams of fentanyl to be fatal.
“Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine. A lethal dose of carfentanil in humans would be at the nanogram level — much smaller than the two milligrams of fentanyl that can kill. If mixed in with other drugs, the 21 kilos of carfentanil seized could have been enough to potentially kill more than 50 million people.”
Prosecutors did not disclose where the substances may have been procured. However, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies have confirmed that fentanyl is manufactured in overseas labs, principally in China, and channeled by cartels across the border with Mexico.
According to public safety officials, roughly 500 people in Riverside County died from fentanyl poisoning in 2022. That compares to just under 400 in 2021, a 200-fold increase from 2016, when only two such fatalities were documented.
Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45 years old.
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