A Perris man and woman were charged Thursday in what is believed to be the largest seizure of carfentanil in Riverside County, officials announced.
A lengthy investigation by the Riverside Police Department led to the seizure of a large cache of illegal drugs, including 21 kilos of carfentanil — a drug 100 times more potent and potentially much more deadly than fentanyl, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
“If mixed in with other drugs, the 21 kilos of carfentanil seized could have been enough to potentially kill more than 50 million people,” the DA’s Office said.
For months, police have been investigating a suspected drug trafficking organization they believed to be supplying fentanyl, cocaine and heroin in Riverside County.
Then on Aug. 17, officers found carfentanil, cocaine and heroin at a home on Glimmer Way in Perris while serving a search warrant.
No one was at the home when authorities arrived, but the search led investigators to identify Andres Jesus Morales, 30, and Alyssa Christine Ponce, 27, as suspects, according to the DA’s Office.
Nearly a month later, on Sept. 14, detectives served another search warrant at a home on Limousin Street in Perris, where they found another 16 kilos of cocaine in the garage, officials said.
Morales and Ponce were arrested and booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center on no bail.
The suspects were each charged with four felonies for possession for sales of fentanyl, cocaine and heroin. They both pleaded not guilty to all counts Thursday.
Federal officials have long been warning local law enforcement agencies about carfentanil.
The synthetic opioid is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which is already 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Carfentanil is an analog of the manmade opioid fentanyl and it is not intended or approved for use on humans, officials said.
It only takes about two milligrams of fentanyl to be a fatal amount. A lethal dose of carfentanil would be much smaller.