HOLBROOK — Navajo County deputies conducted a traffic stop April 9, near milepost 256 of Interstate 40. As the officer spoke to the driver and passenger of the vehicle, he noticed some inconsistencies. This prompted the deputies to use Zolton, the K-9 drug detection dog that alerted to the presence of illegal drugs in the vehicle. At first, the deputy located approximately 5.6 pounds of heroin, but as he continued his search, he found an estimated 30,000 fentanyl pills.
Fentanyl is a prescription opioid, many times more powerful than heroin. It can be fatal if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. It can enter the body just by touching it, or through the mouth, nose, or other mucous membranes. Fentanyl is lethal in doses as small as 250 micrograms, which is about a few grains of salt. Adverse health effects, such as disorientation, coughing, sedation, respiratory distress, or cardiac arrest are very rapid and usually occur within minutes.
Based in this information and the high probability of deputies and/or canines being harmed, NCSO Traffic Enforcement deputies elected to seal the contraband and submit the items to the lab for final analysis and an exact count on the illegal contraband.
Two suspects were arrested in connection with the stop. They were identified as Nichole l. Mitchell, 38, and Alberto G. Sandoval, 37. Both suspects are from the Phoenix, metropolitan area. They were booked into the Navajo County Jail and charged with two counts of transportation of a narcotic drug for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia.
NCSO officials said “This amount of fentanyl, if released into any community, would be enough drugs to not only create a dangerous atmosphere for individuals using this substance, by suffering from immediate overdoses, but first responders both in the medical and law enforcement field could be immediately subjected to it as well.”
Sheriff David Clouse, when advised of the seizure and the outstanding work that his deputies completed stated the following: “First of all, I am extremely proud of our deputies for keeping themselves and their canine partners safe. Secondly, how does one describe in words how much damage this dangerous and highly toxic drug could do to any community! It’s a terrible drug and we at the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office will do everything we can do to combat this drug being released within our communities!”