A 36-year-old Mankato man is behind bars for the second time in a week after authorities found 1,064 "extremely dangerous" fentanyl pills in a storage locker that he was renting.
The suspect, who is being held in the Blue Earth County Jail on pending felony drugs charges, was arrested Wednesday by after the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force traced his movement via a GPS device to a storage locker in rural Kasota on Tuesday, May 3.
The suspect had been equipped with GPS monitoring following his arrest April 27 after the task force conducted four search warrants in connection to a narcotics investigation. He was jailed that day for being a felon in possession of a firearm, but was bailed out the same day.
The task force identified the 1,064 pills as what are commonly referred to as "blues," which are Mbox 30 fentanyl pills that disguised to look like 30mg oxycodone prescription pills, and they are "extremely dangerous," the task force said in a press release.
"We have purchased these pills over the past few months for $15 to $25 per pill. Depends on the dealer selling them and the amount we buy," Lt. Jeff Wersal told Bring Me The News.
That puts the value of the 1,064 pills somewhere between about $16,000 and $27,000.
Testing by the DEA has shown that approximately 26% of all counterfeit pills contain a lethal dose of fentanyl. For perspective, the DEA says a fatal dose of fentanyl can fit on the tip of a sharpened pencil.
"Counterfeit pills are especially dangerous because people think they are purchasing legitimate prescription medications. However, these fake pills often contain lethal amounts of illicit drugs. Distributors in the United States are selling counterfeit pills on social media, appealing to a younger audience that use these apps. Minors and young adults experimenting, as well as regular substance users, believe they are buying authentic oxycodone, Adderall, Xanax, or other medicines, but are unwittingly purchasing counterfeit pills that contain lethal amounts of drugs, usually fentanyl and methamphetamine. Fentanyl is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine, and 50 times more potent than heroin as a painkiller. Twenty-six percent of tablets tested in a DEA laboratory contained a lethal dose of fentanyl."
On April 27, the task force arrested five people, including the Mankato man, while executing search warrants at four mobile homes in University mobile Home Park in Mankato. The warrants part of the agency's investigation into a group known to be distributing counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl.
A sixth person later surrendered on his own accord, while a 2-year-old child was taken into protective custody after search teams found the dangerous pills in the child's bedroom.
The searches turned up 450 Mbox 30 pills, 8 grams of cocaine, two loaded handguns and several thousand dollars in cash, according to the task force. That was a record number of fentanyl pills seized by the task force, but only for a week when the new record was set with the 1,064 pills in the rural Kasota locker.
Kasota is located 11 miles north of Mankato.
The four others facing charges include a 31-year-old for second-degree drug sales, third-degree possession, and individuals aged 24, 33 and 54 who each face third-degree drug sales charges.