ASP: Three Nabbed In $6 Million Drug Bust Along I-40

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Left to right: Juan Gutierrez, Mario Irasola-Cruz, and Heriberto Ruiz

POPE COUNTY (KFSM) — Three west coast residents are in the Pope County Detention Center after allegedly being caught with $6 million worth of one of the most potent drugs in America: Fentanyl.

Juan A Gutierrez, 36, of Palm Springs, California, as well as Heriberto F. Ruiz, 45, and Mario Irasola-Cruz, 33, both of San Luis, Arizona, are facing felony drug trafficking charges and are being held in the detention center in lieu of $750,000 bonds.

The three were arrested at the end of September about 9:20 a.m. along Interstate 40 near mile marker 73 while traveling east in a rental car, arrest reports state.

According to police, Gutierrez was driving and swerved across the center line. Due to the three acting extremely nervous, a search was conducted and six, black, duct taped bundles of Fentanyl were found hidden in a spare tire, the reports also state.

The three admitted to knowingly trafficking the drug, according to police.  It happened to be Irasola’s birthday.

Police said the Mexican drug cartel control the trafficking.

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid causing thousands of American overdose deaths. Fentanyl is a schedule I narcotic. It is the same schedule as cocaine, methamphetamine and morphine.

The drug is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute On Drug Abuse.



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