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Florida officials announced they shut down a major fentanyl trafficking operation, seizing enough fentanyl to kill 4 million people, the Attorney General’s office announced Wednesday.
State Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution and Clay County’s Sheriff’s Office cooperated on an investigation that led to two arrests, collecting 8.35 kilograms of fentanyl,1.36 kilograms of cocaine and 2.38 kilograms of methamphetamine. The two suspects appear to have been at the top of the distribution chain as they “ordered and then distributed large quantities of fentanyl to other dealers in Clay and Duval counties,” according to a press release.
Police arrested Alvin “AJ” Mercado and Jason Setzer on Sept. 10.
“Fentanyl is killing Americans at a record pace, and these drug traffickers compiled enough of this deadly synthetic opioid to kill everyone within 18 counties of their criminal operation,” Moody said in a statement. “Thankfully, working with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, we were able to take these deadly drugs off the streets before they could kill Floridians.”
The investigation, which began in July, also involved the United States Postal Service and Florida Highway Patrol, in addition to the attorney general’s special team and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators looked into a trafficking organization that was using USPS to order fentanyl from California. The suspects allegedly sent cash across the country and received “blue and purple fentanyl bricks in return.”
Mercado allegedly placed the orders for the bricks and later took them to Setzer to break them up into smaller quantities before they were distributed to dealers.
Setzer is charged with trafficking in fentanyl, trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in methamphetamine, possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis, conspiracy to traffic in fentanyl in excess of 2,000 grams and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. If convicted, Setzer faces up to 140 years in prison, and is currently being held in the Clay County Jail on a total bond of $17 million.
Mercado is charged with trafficking in fentanyl and conspiracy to traffic in fentanyl in excess of 2,000 grams. If convicted, Mercado faces up to 60 years in prison, and is being held on a $10 million bond.