PANAMA CITY — A local transient was arrested for allegedly having half-a-pound of fentanyl, equivalent to 78,000 lethal doses, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office announced on Wednesday.
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Amador Mendez Jr., 33, was booked into Bay County Jail and charged with trafficking in fentanyl, fleeing and eluding police at a high speed, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a violation of probation for a charge of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Half-a-pound of fentanyl, according to Sheriff Tommy Ford, is equivalent to 78,000 fatal doses.
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The full street value of all the fentanyl is currently unknown, officials said.
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Ford said 3 milligrams of fentanyl is enough to be a fatal dose. To illustrate how low of a dosage that is, according to the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory, it would take about 30 milligrams of heroin to be a fatal dose.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Ford showed side-by-side pictures of the how much the fatal doses are between the two and the fentanyl looked as small as crumbs.. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have dubbed fentanyl as being 100 times more potent than morphine and many times that of heroin.
"The dangers we see with this is that many times it is mixed with other substances typically heroin," Ford said. "This didn’t test positive for heroin, so we believe it is pure fentanyl, but we’ve seen it across the country where it is pressed into a xanax pill."
The chase started when the suspect swerved into another lane abruptly, allegedly almost hitting a deputy. The suspect was pulled over into a gas station parking lot. He then handed out a copy of a Texas identification card and took off.
Lt. Billy Byrd was on his way to work a security detail and sat at the intersection of Edwards Road and State Road 77 where the suspect was thought to be headed. The car approached the intersection and made a right on Edwards Road going toward Resoto Beach Road.
"I had to get pretty close to run the tag to verify it was the right vehicle and it was," Byrd said. "That obviously spooked the driver and he slammed his breaks in the middle of Edwards Road to probably get me to hit him."
The suspect continued to flee until he came to a cul-de-sac on Resoto Beach Road and decided to flee on foot. When the suspect was caught on foot, he explained that he ran because he has an outstanding warrant in Bay County.
When asked if he had anything illegal on him, the suspect allegedly admitted to having a little bit of meth in his back pocket. The BCSO began doing inventory of the vehicle once the suspect was apprehended.
"In the front compartment, there were some meth pipes that was found and we popped the trunk to do a complete inventory and there was a black brief case," Byrd said. "He was very cooperative initially, but once we popped the trunk he shut down on us."