Tampa man sold drugs containing enough fentanyl to kill ‘thousands’
TAMPA, Fla – A Tampa man is in jail and faces multiple drug-related charges after a joint investigation between the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Police say Myron Ray was trafficking drugs such as heroin and oxycodone containing fentanyl.
Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin. The CDC says it’s the deadliest drug in the country.
According to a search warrant obtained by ABC Action News, the two agencies conducted the investigation using surveillance and confidential informants to ultimately arrest Ray.
“It becomes a higher priority when we find out that fentanyl is involved,” said Cpl. Kenny Petrillo, who heads the PDT Opioid Working Group.
The warrant says detectives got a confidential informant from Ray and bought drugs using investigation money from the Tampa Police Department. In the area of East Adamo Drive and South Faulkenburg Road, the informant and Ray exchanged money for drugs. Members of the Opioid Working Group of the TPD and the Special Investigations Division of the HCSO were nearby watching the exchange.
Detectives field tested what appeared to be an oxycodone pill and confirmed it contained fentanyl. In fact, the pills were 100% fentanyl, and PDT says Ray’s clients didn’t know it.
“They’re not buying what they thought they were getting,” Petrillo said. “The idea that fentanyl is infiltrating our community is enough to wipe out a lot of people. It is a dangerous drug.”
During the same week, investigators fired the informant to buy heroin from Ray. A field test revealed that the heroin was also mixed with fentanyl.
Ellen Snelling is on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. Two and a half years ago her brother overdosed on heroin in combination with a type of fentanyl.
“I think everyone should be worried because their loved one might be next,” she said.
Investigators executed a search warrant at Ray’s home at the Alexandria Place Townhomes complex in Tampa. They seized money, marijuana, fentanyl pills, loose fentanyl powder, MDMA and drug paraphernalia. They would eventually find enough fentanyl to kill thousands of people, according to Petrillo.
Ray is charged with several drug charges, including trafficking in cocaine, possession of controlled substances, tampering with physical evidence and violation of parole.
“Just taking these people off the streets is great. I have no sympathy for them,” Snelling said.
Petrillo says it feels good to stop the dealers. At TPD HQ, he says, they have photos of several other dealers that they are monitoring.
“Every time we arrest someone, it makes some families feel comfortable thinking that maybe it was the person who contributed to their loved one’s overdose,” he said.
Families like Snelling’s. To this day, she doesn’t know which dealer gave her brother her last high.
“They are playing Russian roulette with people’s lives,” she said.
The Florida Medical Examiner’s Board released new figures last week. It shows that while deaths caused by opioids are down 13%, deaths caused by fentanyl increased by 64%, in the first half of last year.
The synthetic drug is 100 times more potent than morphine and is often found in counterfeit pills that look like opioids. Federal officials are trying to crack down on foreign sources and believe they are making progress with countries like China and Mexico.