Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested three people and seized nearly 100 pounds of the potentially lethal synthetic opioid fentanyl, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
"The opioid crisis the country is facing right now makes this indictment all the more important," DEA's San Diego Special Agent in Charge, William Sherman, said in a statement, adding "44.14 kilograms of fentanyl represents more than 44 million fraudulent pills on the street which could be fatal for users."
"These dealers are trafficking in death and DEA will continue to hunt them down."
According to a news release, the amount of fentanyl seized is the largest amount ever.
In its own statement, the U.S. Attorney's office in San Diego underscored the lethal potential of the drug, reporting a deadly dose of fentanyl is just 3 milligrams – and the DEA's seizure represents over 14 million lethal doses.
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes, and fentanyl-related deaths have spiked in recent years, Science magazine reported last September.
As part of the drug seizures, the DEA arrested and charged three people: Jonathan Ibarra, 45, of Lemon Grove, Calif; Hector Fernando Garcia, 46, of San Diego; and Anna Baker, 30, also of Lemon Grove. All three were indicted on charges of possessing fentanyl with intent to sell.
If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine.
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