Investigators were working a burglary and narcotics trafficking case when they found about 370 packaged units of fentanyl — which is more than 3,600 doses — in an open wooded area, a detective said.
The fentanyl could have caused hundreds of deaths if consumed or mixed with other illegal drugs, said Cmdr. Jeremy Skinner of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Narcotics Division.
The most commonly prescribed dose is about 50 micrograms, Skinner said, adding that the fentanyl was pharmaceutical grade.
As little as 2 milligrams can be a lethal dose, especially mixed with other drugs, according to state and federal drug agents. An amount of fentanyl that would fit in a typical sweetener packet can kill 400 people, agents say.
Narcotics agents had received tips the drug was in the area, and they have identified potential suspects, Skinner said.
“Today’s seizure was the result of some excellent investigative work and cooperation between law enforcement agencies,” Sheriff Ricky Adam said.
“However, the part I am happiest about is that we were able to get this dangerous substance off the street and know that it will never make it into the hands of children. We’ve been seeing more and more of this drug, as it has become a more popular drug of opiate abuse across the country.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to treat severe pain and used as an anesthesia. It’s 50 times stronger than heroin, and even a small amount can be deadly, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
It’s also said to be up to 100 times more potent than morphine.
There have been several cases of large fentanyl seizures on the Mississippi Coast.
In August 2018, investigators found 416,525 doses of fentanyl in powdered form at a Moss Point man’s home, according to Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Derryle Smith. The DEA arrested a 43-year-old man said to have enough fentanyl to kill about half a million people, nearly 14 percent of Mississippi’s population, Smith said.
In September 2017, federal agents intercepted four kilos of fentanyl destined for the Mississippi Coast in a delivery by couriers for the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the world’s most powerful crime organizations.
The same month, a couple traveling with a toddler were delivering seven kilos of fentanyl to Gulfport when they were arrested in a traffic stop. That drug delivery showed an increasing problem with the illegal sales of fentanyl. The drugs they had were called China White, a designer drug with a type of fentanyl said to be 50 to 100 times more potent, the DEA said.