A Honduran man residing in Portland is facing federal charges after he was arrested moving two kilograms of rainbow fentanyl and several firearms between two Portland-area motels.
Jose Isidro Zuniga Torres, 47, was charged with conspiracy to possess and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl.
According to court documents, Torres was ensnared in an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security and Tigard Police Department into the suspected trafficking of illegal narcotics from Mexico for distribution and sale in Oregon and Washington state.
To date, law enforcement officials have charged or arrested eight people with connections to an international drug trafficking organization and seized more than five kilograms of powdered fentanyl, four and a half kilograms of heroin, three kilograms each of cocaine and crystal methamphetamine, 45,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and 12 firearms.
Zuniga was allegedly one of two men investigators observed on Monday, January 23, carrying multiple boxes into a room at a Portland motel that was under law enforcement surveillance.
Police say the two men loaded the boxes and several additional bags into a vehicle and began driving toward another area motel. The investigators reportedly followed the vehicle and observed the two men unload the boxes and bags into a room at the second motel.
The following day, investigators executed a federal search warrant on the second motel room, seizing more than two kilograms of hard, rainbow-colored fentanyl packaged for distribution, 417 grams of counterfeit oxycodone pills (M30s) containing fentanyl, 393 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 49 grams of cocaine and eight firearms.
Zuniga was also in the motel room and was arrested without incident. He allegedly admitted to possessing most of the drugs found in the motel room and further told investigators the firearms were to be shipped to Honduras and were wrapped in tinfoil and clothing to avoid detection by law enforcement.
Zuniga made his first appearance in federal court Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jolie A. Russo. He was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. A three-milligram dose of fentanyl — which amounts to just a few grains of the substance — is enough to kill an average adult male.
Rainbow fentanyl, which began appearing in several forms in cities across the country last year, is a brightly colored version of the highly toxic synthetic opioid.
Versions seized in the Portland area resemble thick pieces of brightly colored sidewalk chalk or small multi-colored pills sometimes referred to as “skittles.”
If you or someone you know encounter any version of fentanyl, please refrain from handling it and call 9-1-1 immediately.
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