Authorities make large fentanyl busts over 2 days

Law enforcement in Hidalgo County seized a little more than 7 pounds of fentanyl and arrested two people in just two days this week.

The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office made the first bust during a Monday traffic stop in Pharr where they found a man with a little more than a pound of the drug while U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested a woman at the Hidalgo Port of Entry on Tuesday after finding nearly 20,000 fentanyl pills hidden in her groin area and in her purse.

Fentanyl is a highly dangerous narcotic that made headlines recently for four overdoses on Nov. 14 at the Old Beer House in McAllen, including one man who died less than an hour after police responded there for reports of unresponsive persons.

Authorities have charged 31-year-old Donna resident Jose Raquel Lerma with criminal negligent homicide over accusations he sold the cocaine cut with Fentanyl that killed 29-year-old Sergio Sanchez at the club that night.

In the Monday bust, the sheriff’s office pulled over Esteban Padron, born in 1981, in Pharr for a traffic search and he provided the deputies consent to search the white Ford Escape he was driving, according to a criminal complaint.

“Within the back seat area, a grocery bag was found containing one (1) brick of a powdery substance wrapped with brown tape,” the complaint states.

The substance field tested positive for fentanyl and weighed approximately 1.2 pounds, according to authorities.

The sheriff’s office turned the man over to the feds for prosecution.

Padron told a DEA agent that he had received the package from another individual and was going to be paid $1,000 to deliver it to another person, the complaint states.

He is charged with conspiracy to possess and possession of approximately 1.2 pounds of fentanyl, records show.

On Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered Julia Maria Tamez, born in 1995, at the Hidalgo Port of Entry as a passenger in a silver GMC Envoy with two adult women and three minor children.

CBP referred the vehicle to secondary inspection after receiving a probation alert on one of the passengers, court documents indicate.

Once at secondary, one of the adults immediately opened the vehicle door and asked to go to the bathroom, according to CBP.

As the passengers were walking toward the bathroom a CBP officer noticed Tamez carrying a purse, which the officer searched and found a large amount of blue pills hidden inside its lining, federal authorities say.

When CBP searched Tamez, officers reported finding another large quantity of loose blue pills hidden in a cloth grocery bag inside a tube sock hidden in her groin area, according to the complaint.

In all, CBP reported recovering 18,542 blue pills that field tested positive for fentanyl that weighed approximately 6.12 pounds.

According to the complaint, Tamez said someone in Mexico gave her the pills and she was going to be paid $3,000 for crossing the narcotics.

The other passengers were oblivious to the smuggling attempt, federal authorities said.

She is charged with knowingly and intentionally possessing 6.12 pounds of fentanyl as well as knowingly and intentionally possessing with intent to distribute 6.12 pounds of the narcotic.

Both Tamez and Padron are temporarily being held without bond pending probable cause and detention hearings, records show.