Nearly 6,000 grams of the deadly opioid fentanyl — enough to cause over 2 million fatal overdoses — have been taken off the streets of Boston after police busted a large-scale drug operation Thursday in Roxbury, Hyde Park and Brockton.
The massive drug seizure came about after a months-long coordinated investigation involving Boston police, Brockton police, State police, the DEA and the FBI, officials said.
According to Boston police, officers arrested Brockton residents Alan Soto, 29, and Cruz Budhai-Soto, 28, and charged both with trafficking class A drugs, distribution of class A drugs, conspiracy to violate drug laws, as well as multiple firearm-related charges. Both suspects were arraigned in Roxbury District Court on Friday.
Boston police said officers executed search warrants for Soto’s vehicle, for a storage unit on Southampton Street in Roxbury and for properties on Thatcher Street in Hyde Park and Welsford Street in Brockton, and discovered 5,700 grams of fentanyl, four illegal firearms, over $27,000 in cash and a mobile fentanyl processing lab.
With a potency 50 to 100 times the strength of morphine, merely 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be enough to kill a person, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. However, DEA officials have said that a fatal dose can be as small as a quarter of a milligram, meaning a total of 5,700 grams is enough to kill between 2.8 million and 22.8 million people.
However, despite the hefty amount of fentanyl seized, former Boston Police Department’s Superintendent-in-Chief Daniel Linksey said that due to the incredibly high demand for the drug, Thursday’s bust will hardly make a difference in the ongoing fight against the opioid epidemic.
“This is a large seizure for sure, but unfortunately it’s not going to drive the market down. There will be 10 people getting shipments from abroad tomorrow,” Linskey said. “It’s just a blip on the radar.”
According to preliminary data released by the Department of Public Health in August, the presence of fentanyl has risen to “an all-time high” in the state despite opioid-related overdose deaths dropping by 11 percent from 2018 to 2019.
In the first six months of 2019, there were 938 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts, 112 fewer than the 1,050 deaths in the first half of 2018.
However, fentanyl was present in 92% of overdose deaths where there was a toxicology screen in the first half of 2019, up from 89% in 2018.
“They’re doing everything that they can, but unfortunately the problem is so multifaceted,” Linskey said. “Thursday’s seizure won’t even make a difference in the short term, it’s like shuffling stuff against the tide. But you have to make the effort and do what you can.”
In a statement to the Herald, Mayor Marty Walsh said “I commend the work of the Boston Police Department and their partners who on Thursday prevented deadly drugs and weapons from making their way to Boston’s streets. Because of BPD’s successful investigation, Boston’s citizens are safer today.”