Watch CBS News

Feds seize 10 million doses of illegal drugs, including pills designed to look like heart-shaped candy, in Massachusetts

Over 220 pounds of drugs, including some shaped like Valentine's Day candy, seized in Lynn
Over 220 pounds of drugs, including some shaped like Valentine's Day candy, seized in Lynn 00:37

Law enforcement seized 220 pounds of illegal substances worth an estimated $8 million in street value in Massachusetts, the Justice Department announced Monday. 

According to court documents, the seized drugs included about 900,000 individual doses of powdered fentanyl and 20 pounds of pink, heart-shaped pills resembling a popular Valentine's Day candy that allegedly contained fentanyl and methamphetamine.

On July 5, officials started investigating an overdose death in Salem, Massachusetts. They used the victim's Snapchat account to contact an individual about purchasing more pills, which led to an additional three months of surveillance investigation. Law enforcement earlier this month arrested three men — Emilio Garcia, 25, Emilio Garcia, 33, and Deiby Felix, 40 — allegedly connected to a large-scale drug trafficking organization in the area. 

The men were charged with various crimes related to their alleged possession and distribution of illegal drugs. According to court papers, "multiple children" lived in the apartments on the first and second floors of the residence in which the lethal substances were allegedly stored. 

According to charging documents, law enforcement found drug mixing, distribution tools and three loaded firearms inside the basement of the home during a court-authorized search on Nov. 1. 

Drugs and firearms seized following an investigation into drug trafficking in Massachusetts. Department of Justice

"This is believed to be one of the largest single-location seizures of fentanyl and methamphetamine in the history of New England," investigators said in court papers. 

In written statements, Attorney General Merrick Garland called the use of heart-shaped drugs "depraved," while FBI Director Christopher Wray said they posed "an enormous risk to children." 

In addition to the potentially deadly doses of powdered fentanyl, investigators said they found nearly 60 pounds of counterfeit Adderall pills believed to contain methamphetamine and 280,000 counterfeit Percocet pills believed to contain fentanyl and to be worth up to $7 million. 

Heart-shaped pills that allegedly contain fentanyl. Department of Justice

"We believe this crew's constant churn of drug transactions has kept the Bay State awash in dangerous and deadly narcotics and is tied to the overdose death of at least one person from Salem, Massachusetts," Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, said. 

More than 82,000 Americans died in 2022 due to fentanyl, a number that has increased every year for the last five years, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Law enforcement agencies have so far seized more than 55 million pills of fentanyl this year and more than 9,000 pounds of powder containing the deadly drug, Garland said at an event with victims of drug overdoses last month. 

In the face of the increasing fentanyl epidemic, law enforcement is moving beyond taking the dangerous drugs off the streets, targeting the drug cartels in Mexico that bring the substances into the U.S. and the chemical companies in China that produce the precursors of the lethal substances.  

Last month, federal prosecutors charged 12 individuals and eight companies in China with engaging in international schemes to sell and ship chemicals used to produce fentanyl and other deadly drugs across the world and into the U.S.

And in September, the U.S. secured the extradition from Mexico of Ovidio Guzmán López, son of notorious drug trafficker and former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán. López — who has pleaded not guilty — and other sons of El Chapo were charged in April, along with nearly two dozen members and associates of the Sinaloa Cartel for allegedly orchestrating a transnational fentanyl trafficking operation into the U.S. 

The three men charged in Massachusetts are set to make their first appearance in federal court on Nov. 13. Their respective defense attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.