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Feds Charge Washington State Pair With Drug Trafficking After Seizing Over 300,000 Fentanyl Pills

FRESNO (CBS SF) -- A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment Thursday against a Washington State couple who were arrested after a police K-9 led to the discovery of over 300,000 fentanyl pills in their vehicle during a Central Valley traffic stop.

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said 40-year-old Joseph Hill of Mount Vernon, Washington, and 27-year-old Brigit Marie Bissell of Bothell, Washington, were charged with conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.

On Jan. 14, Hill and Bissell were traveling northbound on Interstate 5 in Fresno County when stopped by the California Highway Patrol for speeding.

The officer became suspicious of the pair and brought in CHP K9 "Beny" to sniff the exterior of the Volkswagen. The dog alerted the officer to the odor of narcotics. A subsequent search revealed three bags containing approximately 75 pounds of fentanyl or over 300,000 fentanyl pills.

Authorities said the street value of the pills was approximately $3 million making it the largest fentanyl bust in Central Valley history.

Throughout California, fentanyl deaths are on the rise. One kilogram (2.2 pounds) of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people.

If convicted, Hill and Bissell face a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine.

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