HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Two men from Maryland were charged with trafficking thousands of fentanyl pills into Connecticut, the Department of Justice said.
The U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced that a grand jury found 34-year-old Oscar Flores of Mount Rainer, Maryland, and 25-year-old Severo Alelar of Hyattsville, Maryland, with fentanyl trafficking offenses.
According to court documents, Flores, Alelar, and others arrived at a meeting location in Wethersfield on Sept. 8 to sell approximately 15,000 colorful fentanyl pills to an undercover DEA agent. After Flores showed the undercover agent a sample of the fentanyl pills, the agent told him he needed to travel to another location to pick up the money.
While following the undercover agent’s car into Rocky Hill, a Rocky Hill officer attempted to stop the SUV for a traffic violation. However, the SUV sped and ran over a roadside curb onto a grass area along the side of the road where law enforcement cars boxed it in.
Investigators found numerous Nerds candy boxes and Skittles candy bags containing thousands of brightly colored fentanyl pills inside the car, the DOJ said. Whether the fentanyl pills inside the candy boxes were being marketed to children or not they are made to look like something a child may want to try.
The concern children may be exposed to “rainbow” fentanyl is amplified at this time of year with Halloween coming up and with “rainbow” fentanyl pills being found in the state. Some parents are saying they’ll be taking a much closer look at their kid’s Halloween candy this fall.
News 8 spoke with the New London Police Department who said fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.
“We’re very concerned about our kids being exposed to addictive substances. Their brains aren’t fully developed. They’re more vulnerable to developing problems with drugs than someone whose brain is fully formed,” said Dr. Craig Allen, Vice President of Addiction Services at Hartford Healthcare.
The Ledge Light Health District installed weatherproof boxes in New London to make Narcan, fentanyl test strips, and cards that explain safe practices for drug use available to anyone who needs them.
“Rainbow or not fentanyl is in our drug supply and it does pose a risk to people because they cannot have any way of knowing how much of a dose they’re consuming,” said Jen Muggeo of the Ledge Light Health District.
Muggeo said schools in the area keep Narcan on hand and she encourages parents to talk to their kids about the danger of fentanyl and other drugs.
Flores and Alelar were charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, and with possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl. Each charge carries a minimum imprisonment term of five years and a maximum of 40 years.
Both men have been detained since Sept. 8.
“Trafficking fentanyl is already and undoubtedly a serious offense, but one doesn’t have to stretch their imagination too far to consider how disguising fentanyl pills in children’s candy packaging, as we allege, can result in even more tragic consequences in the community,” U.S. Attorney Venessa Roberts Avery said.