Pennsylvania State Police say more than 6 pounds of fentanyl were discovered in a turnpike stop

Earlier this week, a major arrest by Pennsylvania State Police suspected of involving two people and fentanyl occurred on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County.

Jose Cortez Benitez, 34, of San Mateo, Calif., is in the Somerset County Jail awaiting a preliminary hearing Wednesday before District Judge Susan Mankamyer, Somerset District Attorney, confirmed Molly Metzgar. Cortez Benitez faces charges of intent to deliver, a felony; possession of a controlled substance, an offence; and summary offenses of improper sun protection and concealed license plates. According to court documents, the bail was denied because of “extremely high risk of absconding”. No defender was listed.

There was no information in the court documents Friday morning about the second person that state police said was involved in the traffic stop, Ramiro Hernandez of New Rochelle, New York.

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“First and foremost, I thank the efforts of all law enforcement officers who conducted this stop. The danger they are putting themselves in with these busts often goes unnoticed, and on behalf of all citizens of Somerset County, I am grateful for their service,” Metzgar said.

Three kilograms of fentanyl is about 6.6 pounds. The Drug Enforcement Administration has said that one kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people. Just 2 milligrams of fentanyl, which is equivalent to 10 to 15 grains of table salt, is considered a lethal dose, which can come in pill or powder form.

“This drug in particular is very dangerous and with the amount taken off the streets in this raid it was certainly a massive blow to the illegal drug distribution operation that was involved,” Metzgar said.

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Drug poisoning is the leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of 18 and 45. About 108,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021, with 66% of those deaths attributable to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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This article originally appeared in The Daily American: State Police seize suspected fentanyl at Somerset PA Turnpike Stop

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