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DEA Loses Track Of Drug Mule Caught Delivering Enough Fentanyl To Kill 25 Million People

  A man cooperating with federal drug agents after local law enforcement busted him transporting enough fentanyl to kill 25 million people m...

 A man cooperating with federal drug agents after local law enforcement busted him transporting enough fentanyl to kill 25 million people managed to escape authorities and is now considered a fugitive.

In July, according to The Denver Gazette, a Colorado state trooper pulled over 27-year-old David Maldonado just west of Denver after spotting him weaving in and out of traffic. During the interaction, court documents read the trooper found 114 pounds of fentanyl powder packaged in 48 bags hidden in two traps underneath the vehicle’s floorboard.

Following his arrest, Maldonado agreed to finish delivering the drugs from California to South Bend, Indiana, with a tracking device attached to his vehicle in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to lead authorities to traffickers higher up in the criminal network. But the following day, NBC reports, Maldonado slipped away from the federal authorities’ controlled delivery by removing the tracking device from his car.

Although DEA officials declined to comment on the operation, a spokesperson told NBC news that the 114 pounds of fentanyl have remained in law enforcement’s possession since the initial seizure.

The spokesperson said the agency is “relentlessly pursuing the individuals that were involved in the trafficking of the seized fentanyl and will continue to do so.”

However, Colorado State Patrol confirmed Maldonado escaped federal surveillance.

“DEA was working with us, and they made a deal with the driver,” Master Trooper Gary Cutler said, according to NBC. “He ran on them after they worked the case, and that was their debacle.”

Maria Haberfeld, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor and former DEA consultant, told NBC that authorities should have known to use extra surveillance on a potential cooperator who may not have been adequately vetted.

“This is a fiasco for the DEA,” Haberfeld said.

Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI assistant director and an NBC News national security contributor, told NBC an internal investigation is most likely underway by federal agents.

“We’ve got a record amount of fentanyl involved here, in fact, enough fentanyl to kill everyone in the state of Colorado,” Figliuzzi said. “The individual who was delivering that amount of fentanyl is now in the wind. And it looks like there are no other bad guys in custody, as far as we know, so that is a large-scale failure.”

The U.S. Marshals said that its Colorado Violent Offender Task Force is searching for Maldonado, who is wanted on two felony charges of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance of more than 225 grams and introducing that substance into the state of Colorado.

NBC reports that statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment revealed fentanyl deaths in the state have increased from 81 to more than 900 from 2017 to 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that overdose deaths involving opioids — primarily fentanyl — increased from an estimated 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021.

Drug overdose deaths in the United States were recorded at an estimated 107,622 — an increase of nearly 15% from the 93,655 deaths estimated in 2020.

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