The Riverside County Gang Impact team seized thousands of pills containing fentanyl as well as several kilograms of the drug in powder form, the Riverside County District Attorney's office announced on Monday.
The seizures happened during three separate investigations across Riverside County over the past two weeks, the DA's office added.
During the investigations, GIT seized an estimated 40,000 M-30 pills containing fentanyl, five kilos of powdered fentanyl, and three firearms. The estimated street value of the seized fentanyl is more than $1.5 million.
Additional details were not released as the investigation remains ongoing.
"These investigations are part of the continuing effort of all Riverside County law enforcement agencies to save lives by stopping the flow of fentanyl in the county," reads a news release from the DA's office.
Fentanyl is known to be 80-100 times more potent than morphine and is a popular additive, seamlessly mixed into any number of narcotics and pharmaceuticals.
Fentanyl is manufactured in China and smuggled across the Mexican border, according to Sheriff Chad Bianco.
Late last year, Riverside County District Attorney Hestrin told News Channel 3 that fentanyl deaths are up by more than 800% in the last five years in the county.
According to Riverside County, there were at least 386 unintentional fentanyl deaths throughout 2021 in the county. That’s up by more than 100 deaths from the year before.
Hestrin also noted that the DEA estimates that 40% of counterfeit pills on the street contain a fatal dose of fentanyl.
So far this year, there have been 79 fentanyl overdose deaths in Riverside County, that's according to county data from Jan. 1 to March 31. The majority of fentanyl overdose deaths are unintentional.
Hestrin told News Channel 3in May that unintentional fentanyl deaths are growing more common.
“What's really, so different about fentanyl, it's the process of overdose, it's not really overdosing anymore," Hestrin added, "It's not a long process that involves addiction and using the drug routinely. It's happening a lot on the first time or the first second time that someone is taking one of these pills and death is occurring.”
You can find a live updated chart of overdose deaths below:
At the start of the year, Riverside County law enforcement officials joined a state lawmaker and families of victims "poisoned'' by fentanyl, to call on the public to support legislative and other efforts aimed at charging dealers with murder and manslaughter.
In May, a Palm Desert woman accused of selling fentanyl that led to a man's death was charged with one count of murder. The woman
Loved ones told News Channel 3's Samantha Lomibao that the man said he took a pill for pain relief, following a recent dental procedure.
In December, a man who sold a 20-year-old woman a fentanyl-laced pill was arrested and was indicted on federal charges. We've spoken to the woman's father about the case and his fight for legislative change.
Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage.