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.
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.