The largest fentanyl seizure in Missouri history happened during a routine traffic stop this weekend.
A Missouri Highway Patrol officer stopped a 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan at about 2 p.m. Nov. 1 driven by Angel Larar-Esteban, 27, of Phoenix, Arizona. Police reported that they asked to search the vehicle, and found 4.8 pounds of pure fentanyl, with an estimated street value of more than $3 million.
This is the largest amount of fentanyl seized in the history of the state of Missouri, according to police.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller that is 50 times more powerful than heroin, and often mixed with heroin to make the drug more potent. Inhaling only a few grains can be lethal, officials say, and fentanyl is responsible for nearly half the drug overdose deaths in the St. Louis region last year. In Madison County, fentanyl-related deaths tripled from 2015 to 2016 even as heroin deaths declined, though the drugs are often mixed.
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In St. Louis, fentanyl deaths soared from 12 in 2014 to 151 in 2016. The St. Louis Fire Department used naloxone, a drug to counteract opioid overdoses, a total of 1,900 times last year.
Larar-Esteban faces charges of felony drug trafficking and endangering the welfare of a child, according to news reports.