An Oklahoma County sheriff’s deputy made a drug bust last month. seizing drugs valued at more than $3 million, including a large amount of fentanyl, officials say.
“Oklahoma City is a major route for drug traffickers with I-40 and I-35 running right through the heart of the city. It always has been,” Sheriff Tommie Johnson III said Tuesday. “But lately we’ve seen seen a dramatic increase in fentanyl trafficking through the county. It’s cheap. It’s easy to conceal. And it’s very powerful. But it’s also deadly.”
The deputy, a member of the Criminal Interdiction Team of Central Oklahoma, stopped a vehicle that was driving erratically on Interstate 35 near N 122, according to a release from the department.
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The driver, Jamara Hendratta Hennings, 29, of Cleveland, Ohio, told the deputy she was returning home from visiting friends in Phoenix. According to the release, the deputy became suspicious when Hennings could not provide the last names of the people she had stayed with or where in Phoenix they lived. Hennings told the deputy that she had borrowed the van to drive home because she was unable to afford a plane ticket.
When the deputy requested permission to search the vehicle, Hennings declined and a drug-sniffing dog was called in, according to the release. Authorities said the dog indicated a positive hit on the rear of the van and the deputy retrieved a duffle bag containing 75,000 fentanyl pills in plastic bags, 23.5 pounds of methamphetamine inside 12 plastic containers and eight cellophane-wrapped bundles and 2.5 pounds of pre-cut cocaine.
The Sheriff’s Department estimated the street value of the drugs was $3.3 million.
Hennings was turned over to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is expected to face federal charges, authorities said.
Fentanyl has been a growing concern across the country as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited opioid overdose deaths increased by approximately 28.5% in a one year period ending April 2021, with the majority of those deaths attributed to synthetic opioids, like fentanyl.
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“They press it into pill form, lulling people into believing it’s safe when it really isn’t. Some pills have enough fentanyl to get you high, others have deadly amounts,” Johnson said. “Every time you take one of these pills, you’re playing Russian roulette.”
Last month, Oklahoma County Jail Administrator Greg Williams cited concerns over an increase in fentanyl’s prevalence within the jail. This followed a detainee death that was said to be under investigation as a possible fentanyl overdose, and a woman accused of being arrested deliberately in an attempt to smuggle fentanyl into the jail.