An Arizona woman is facing federal charges after she was caught trafficking approximately 45,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and several additional pounds of bulk heroin on Interstate 5 near Salem earlier this month.
Nancy Garcia, 47, of Yuma County, Arizona, was charged in federal court with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl and heroin.
According to court documents, Garcia was stopped by an Oregon State Police trooper on I-5 on January 16. Police said Garcia was the sole occupant of the vehicle and was traveling with a statue of Santa Muerte, a saint-like figure in folk Catholicism and Mexican neopaganism some individuals believe offers protection in drug trafficking.
Garcia first told the trooper she was traveling to Seattle, but later admitted she planned to spend a week in Portland. The trooper searched Garcia’s vehicle and reportedly found more than 10 pounds of counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and five and a half pounds of bulk heroin in a bag on the floor behind the driver’s seat.
The trooper placed Garcia under arrest and transported the drugs to a law enforcement lab for further evaluation.
Garcia made her first appearance in federal court on January 18 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Youlee Yim You. She was ordered detained pending further court proceedings. This case is being investigated jointly by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and OSP. It is being prosecuted by Paul T. Maloney, assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon.
Clackamas County, like much of the state, is in the midst of a fentanyl crisis — as evidenced by a sharp increase in overdoses of the powerful and potentially deadly opioid over the past two years.
Opioid overdose hospitalizations in the state increased 18% from 2021 to 2022, while hospitalizations related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids more than doubled. Oregon now ranks first in prescription opioid misuse and last in access to treatment — with one in five Oregonians needing but not receiving treatment.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate found in counterfeit prescription drugs, estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Even a small amount can be lethal.
Last year, federal authorities made what was believed to have been the largest fentanyl bust in state history in the parking lot of the Oregon City Home Depot in Clackamas County, seizing about 150,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl and about 20 pounds of fentanyl powder in a sting operation.
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