A November traffic stop on Interstate 77 in North Carolina's Iredell County turned into a drug bust.
That drug bust was considered the biggest OxyContin bust in the county’s history.
But WSOC-TV anchor Allison Latos has learned that the drugs seized in the bust turned out to be fentanyl, which is up to 100 times more powerful than heroin.
Thousands of pills were packed into a paint can with a false bottom.
Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell said he is shocked that 5,000 pills were disguised as OxyContin but were actually fentanyl.
“Bad guys don't want other bad guys to know what they have, so that's why they disguise their products,” Campbell said.
Deputies arrested Anthony Prettyman and Corey Laurenson, of Elmira, New York.
Weny Elmira Narcotics helped feds break up a large drug ring there, where police raided homes and arrested four men accused of dealing tens of thousands of pills.
“To have a sort of relatively rural smaller city, such as Elmira, be a source location for drugs was something we hadn't seen very frequently,” said U.S. Attorney James Kennedy Jr.
Police are still investigating if the ring is to blame for several overdoses in New York, but Campbell is grateful deputies stopped the pills from being sold here.
“Over 5,000 pills taken off the street and who knows what that could have led to and how many countless lives it saved,” Campbell said.
The sheriff said the pills were headed for Charlotte, a distribution city for the East Coast.
Fentanyl is so powerful, had deputies touched those pills, they could have become ill.
Deputies take precautions and wear gloves during drug investigations.
Last week, officers in Rock Hill were on heightened alert because an officer in Ohio went to the hospital after he brushed fentanyl off his uniform.
Rock Hill police said every officer has a kit with a mask, gown and gloves
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