Traffic stop yields $908K in drugs

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HANCOCK COUNTY — An Indiana State Police trooper conducting a routine patrol on Interstate 70 pulled a car over for following too closely and discovered almost 4½ pounds of fentanyl and over 15 pounds of pills hidden inside.

The discovery took approximately $908,000 in illegal drugs off the streets, local drug enforcement officials with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department said.

Felix C. Becerra-Aguilera, 40, Wasco, California, was arrested Monday, Sept. 13, and charged with three felony counts, including a Level 2 felony charge of dealing in a narcotic drug. The most serious charge against him carries a prison term of up to 30 years.

Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous and potent manmade opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, officials said. It only takes about two milligrams of fentanyl to potentially be lethal, according to DEA.gov.

For a perspective of how small that amount is, it takes 5,000 milligrams to make one teaspoon.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the ISP trooper pulled over a red Chevrolet heading east shortly after noon Monday about a mile west of the Mt. Comfort exit.

The driver, Becerra-Aguilera, told the trooper he was heading to a wedding in Philadelphia and had stopped in Las Vegas on the way. The trooper called for backup, and when another officer arrived, they asked for consent to search the vehicle. Becerra-Aguilera agreed.

A trooper was able to use a portable X-ray machine and noticed something amiss inside the seats, the report stated. The troopers could see plastic sticking out underneath the seats and soon discovered multiple plastic-wrapped packages containing blue tablets marked “M/30.”

Located in the seatbacks of the front seats, troopers found more packages of pills and two bricks commonly referred to as “kilos” containing a powder, later identified as fentanyl, the report stated.

Becerra-Aguilera told the troopers he was just the driver and knew there were drugs in the car, the affidavit said. He told them he was being paid $8,000 to take the drugs to Philadelphia, but he didn’t know the address yet. He also stated that he was being tracked via GPS, the affidavit said.

Becerra-Aguilera’s wallet was also searched, and the troopers found a small plastic bag containing a white powder that later field tested positive for cocaine.

The kilo packages tested positive for fentanyl and weighed approximately 4.4 pounds. The tablets, which officials said can sell for $25 per pill, had a combined weight of approximately 15.8 pounds. The markings on the tablets identified them as oxycodone hydrochloride. However, from previous seizures and bulletins the trooper noted he believed the pills to be counterfeit and said they were fentanyl pills. The chemical composition was inconclusive when they were field tested.

Becerra-Aguilera was transported to the Hancock County Jail around 2 p.m. Monday. He made his initial appearance Tuesday, Sept. 14, in front of Judge Scott Sirk, who set a $1 million cash bond. Becerra-Aguilera is due back in court in December.

Other charges against him are a Level 3 felony count of possession of a narcotic drug and a Level 6 felony count of possession of cocaine.

Sgt. Todd Wix, public information officer for the Indiana State Police, said the bust took a significant amount of drugs out of circulation.

“Certainly at the federal, state and local level we try to attack this problem every way we can,” Wix said. “It is a most satisfying thing when we have a successful day like this — we’re really proud of our troopers and their efforts.”

Becerra-Aguilera was still listed as an inmate as of the Daily Reporter’s deadline on Tuesday.